Friday, October 07, 2005

More on the City We Can’t Forget About

Big Easy Glimpses from Suspect Thoughts: The talented, generous, and big-hearted duo of Ian Philips and Greg Wharton offered more updates on Big Easy writers in their recent Suspect Thoughts newsletter. On poet Martin Pousson: Greg and Ian note he went to stay at his parents home in Lafayette to ride out Hurricane Katrina only to have to evacuate Lafayette to avoid Hurricane Rita -- and ended up in a dry county on the Louisiana/Arkansas border (a cruel fate for any child of the Big Easy). But the good news is he's back in Lafayette now and gearing up for a return to New Orleans to rebuild his beloved city. On Jamie Joy Gatto: To say Jamie Joy Gatto and her fiance Ben have been through hell since Katrina is to sugarcoat the concept of hell. What they and thousands of others experienced in New Orleans (and her posts at her Yahoo group tell the horrors, at the hands of those entrusted to serve and protect, they endured at the Convention Center), no one should have. And you can go here and tell Jamie Joy yourself and see how you can help. Sage Vivant and M. Christian were able to raise $1100 for Jamie Joy and Ben. If you want to tell Sage she's one righteous writer (and she is), send her an email through her Web site Custom Erotica Source. On Elyn Selu: Greg and I mentioned in last month's newsletter that Elyn Selu's house was underwater after the flooding. We got this email from her and Brad to send along to everyone in SuspectThoughtsLand. (If you don't know Elyn, she's one of the coolest and kindest people I've met. She's continually warming up the flames of pagan abandon on a planet that desperately needs it.) "Brad and I are staying with my family in Charlotte. He'll be returning to New Orleans this week to help others get wired up. Our house is slowly being drained, but we don't know when they'll let us into our neighbor hood. Anyone who wants to contact me can through: -- or read about my meltdowns and water phobias on secretpink at P.S. if anyone out there has an online screenplay workshop they know of, please drop me a line. I've got one that needs critiquing and I need something to write about besides dark brown water and bushisms." On C. Bard Cole and Dimitri Apessos: Author D. Travers Scott wrote to say that C. Bard Cole (Briefly Told Lives) had moved to New Orleans after receiving his graduate degree in Alabama this spring. But he and fellow author Dimitri Apessos made it out of New Orleans safely to Nashville. You can learn more from Bard's blog. On Claude Summers and Ted-Larry Pebworth: Patricia Nell Warren wrote to say that Saints & Sinners panel facilitator Claude Summers and his partner Ted-Larry Pebworth were safe and with friends in Baton Rouge. Also Timm Holt, owner of Cowpokes, a bar that has hosted several S&S events over the years, is okay and with his sister in Illinois. And that Gary Taylor, a reviewer from Biloxi, MS, who has written about many gay titles on and attended last year's Saints & Sinners, is safe with his partner, R.J., with friends in Florida. On Travis Montez: Brilliant poet and lawyer (yes, it can happen) Travis Montez wrote to say that all his family in his home state of Mississippi are fine, but they experienced a great deal of property damage. You can read more on his blog. More on Rip and Marsha Naquin-Delain: Rip and Marsha, the forces behind New Orleans's Ambush magazine as well as the hosts of the fabulous Friday night welcome party for Saints & Sinners, rode out Katrina in their home in the French Quarter, but had to leave later when the looting began. We hope they are back in New Orleans now and look forward to toasting New Orleans's and their good health next may. You can read their story at Ambush's Katrina Web page. On author Marty Hyatt: The author of the forthcoming A Scarecrow's Bible says the he and all his family are safe, though most are displaced. From Robbie Daw: Instinct magazine's managing editor about his aunt and cousin: "My aunt and cousin made it safely out of New Orleans to Beaumont, TX, but, like most people in their situation, have no money, no food, etc. They can't even get anyone to tell them where they should go or who to talk to for any kind of relief." From O'Neil De Noux: "We escaped. Our home in Jefferson Parish was hit pretty hard with three trees through the roof, hurricane force wind damage inside and water damage, although our house didn't float away. We are presently jobless but have been taken in by some good people here in Lake Charles, LA and have a roof over our heads." On Patrick Ryan: The founder and editor-in-chief of Lodestar Quarterly, and truly one of the kindest laborers in the fields of queer lit, sent us this much more somber note: "Lots of updates. Not all of it good, though. My mom, at least, is safe out here with me. She's going to relocate permanently in San Francisco. She's afraid to go back, at her age, and face the possibility of another killer storm. My brothers all evacuated, too, but they're hoping to go back and be part of the rebuilding process. The worst of the news is that my sister-in-law's cousin, and that cousin's husband and two kids, were killed in Waveland. I hadn't met them before, since I've been out here in San Francisco for awhile, but it's so tragic, in any case. My lesbian cousin, Michelle, her brother, Michael, and their mother, each owned a fairly new home, and all three homes were completely destroyed. Quite a few other cousins lost their homes, too, and one, a close cousin of mine, evacuated to Jackson, Miss, found out he’d lost his house, and then was robbed of all the money he'd taken with him to Jackson, $1,600. My uncle who is down-syndrome and paralyzed was indeed evacuated and is in a new home in Lafayette, so that's good news that he is safe. My mom had cared for him for many years, but when he became paralyzed a few years ago, he had to go into a home. I suppose my mother's story is the happiest of the stories, and the people of San Francisco have been so incredibly generous. The government, on the other hand, has done nothing but impede the solutions. I've run around with FEMA for weeks and have gotten nothing from them. The people in Chalmette, my cousin included, were completely ignored by the government. Canadian forces actually reached them first." You can read Patrick’s mother's story here on Lodestar Quarterly . On Lisa C. Moore: Punk goddess and author Anna Joy Springer forwarded us this email from Tisa Bryant about Lisa C. Moore, founder of the way cool RedBone Press. And many of us will also remember Lisa for all she did to help queer lit while she worked with the Lambda Literary Foundation. (Thank you, Lisa!) Well, now it's time for us to help her. "Dear All, Just sharing this message from my friend, Lisa C. Moore, founder of RedBone Press, which is dedicated to the creativity of queer African-Americans. She was born and raised in New Orleans; all the roots that fortify her life are there. (RedBone Press, P.O. Box 15571, Washington, DC 20003, 202-667-0392 phone, 301-559-5239 fax.) Fortunately, her entire family physically survived the hurricane and flooding, but lost everything, had to leave, as did the key funders for printing her next book. She's searching for a new printer for her next title, Spirited, a collection of writings on faith by Af-Am GLBT folks, so if you know anyone who might be willing donate services or otherwise help her continue her work *affordably*, please contact her at the info listed on her site. She's an amazing human being, and so is her father, musician Deacon John, who is still searching for missing bandmates (his piano player is still missing). Her sister Denise was recently taped for "This American Life," in a segment about her days and nights in the New Orleans Convention Center."

Saints and Sinners Update: Paul Willis and Greg Herren, the fabulous duo of editors and writers and the life force behind the annual Saints and Sinners Literary Festival of Queer Writers in New Orleans, are both safe and at work. Greg is back in Louisiana and posts often to his blog, Queer and Loathing in America . A recent email from Paul Willis, now in Illinois, also arrived with an update on the next Saints and Sinners and I’ve posted it below for any and all who want to attend or contribute funds.
"I'd like to thank everyone for their kind emails, good wishes, and offers of help and support. Greg and I were able to get out of New Orleans on Sunday before Katrina ravaged the city. After a stressful drive along with 100,000 other folks fleeing the city at the time, we made our way to my parents place in Kewanee, Illinois. And as luck would have it, Labor Day weekend happened to be Hog Days. We weren't much in the spirit of celebrating but did make our way to the library book sale and the flea market. I was glad to find a hard cover of Val McDermid's novel A Place of Execution.
As I'm sure you all know from your own communities, it has been amazing to me how far reaching the impact of this tragedy has been. Here in Kewanee alone, a couple from Chalmette, LA have relocated staying with friends they met on the internet eight years ago, a woman and her two kids have also temporarily found shelter here in the Hog Capital. Every store is taking collections, individuals are organizing fundraisers, and as of September 7, Kewanee-area residents have given more than $10,000 to relief efforts.
I've slowly, but surely been able to get organized and set up in my new surroundings. But as you can imagine, I can't wait to get home to New Orleans and get my life back. One of the things that I can do while I'm here is to make efforts so that the Saints and Sinners Literary Festival will still take place as scheduled May 12-14, 2006 in the city of New Orleans. I appreciate the interest people have shown in wanting to make sure that the event will continue. If you'd like to make a donation towards this project, checks should be made out to the NO/AIDS Task Force and can be sent to me at my temporary location:
Paul Willis
P.O. Box 102
Kewanee, IL 61443
If you make a donation and/or would like to correspond, please include your email address, and I'll get you added to the e-newsletter list for the Saints and Sinners newsletter so that you can keep updated on the progress we're able to make. The website for the literary festival is Your support will go a long way to benefit the GLBT literary community, the NO/AIDS Task Force, and the city of New Orleans.
The dynamic array of GLBTQ literary talent for this year's Saints & Sinners program is already coming together with presenters to include: Jake Shears from the Scissor Sisters, award-winning writers K.M. Soehnlein and Michelle Tea, authors and poets Martin Pousson and Elena Georgiou, along with master classes facilitated by Steven Saylor and Karla Jay. Literary Sponsors include Bold Strokes Books, Bywater Books, DREAMWalker Group, Gival Press, Harrington Park Press, InSightOut Books, Lodestar Quarterly, Suspect Thoughts Press, and Wildcat Press.
Once again, my thanks to everyone for their generosity and support of the New Orleans community.
I'll keep in touch and hope to get the first e-newsletter out by mid-October.
All the best,
Paul J. Willis"