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Richard Siken to headline New Writers New Orleans LitFest

Richard Siken to headline New Writers New Orleans 2014 LitFest March 27 and give a reading at UNO March 28

"In the wrong light anyone can look like a darkness (self-portrait)" by Richard Siken

"In the wrong light anyone can look like a darkness (self-portrait)" by Richard Siken

Poet Richard Siken will give the keynote reading for the 7thd annual New Orleans New Writers Literary Festival at 7 p.m. on Thursday, March 27, at the New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts’ (2800 Chartres St.). Siken is the recipient of a Literature Fellowship in Poetry from the National Endowment for the Arts, the winner of the 2004 Yale Series for Younger Poets competition for his collection Crush, and the cofounder and editor of the literary magazine spork.

He will also give a reading at 3 p.m. on Friday, March 28, in room 197 of the Liberal Arts Building on the University of New Orleans campus. A reception with donut holes and black coffee, hosted by the UNO creative writing program, will follow.

The New Orleans New Writers Literary Festival is an annual gathering of more than 100 young writers, grades 9 – 12, yet unburdened with such mess as the ‘death of print’ and the grind of rejection. The event takes place on March 27 and Saturday, March 29.

Siken has been known for disappointing high school students in the past. Hopefully he won’t crush too many spirits during the LitFest. From an interview in BOMB magazine by Legacy Russell:

LR: So, Richard, I’m just going to put it out there—while your work can be found on a myriad of blogs, online journals, and a variety of publications, and while selections from Crush have been read on YouTube by aspiring poets, tattooed on people’s bodies, and passed around a far-reaching literary community as a publication that has been rumored to change people’s lives, you’ve been relatively private about your identity as a writer. What gives?

RS: You know, I’ve dodged this question (or answered it dishonestly) so many times now, but I’ll go ahead and attempt an explanation. You get the page, I get the rest. That’s the answer but really, you want the reasons behind the answer. I got an email from a high school student a while ago. She had selected one of my poems and was going to do a presentation for a class. Her teacher told her she should contact me, so she could understand the poem. I wrote back saying, basically, that if she needed my explanations and my biography to help her understand it—to feel it—then the poem was a failure and I had wasted my life. She wrote back, of course. She said I was rude and that now she was going to get a B.

Saturday at the LifFest features a day-long schedule of master classes and seminars for New Orleans high school students taught by acclaimed writers. Scheduled events include a master class with Siken; screenwriting with Henry Griffin; Spoken Word with Slam Team NOLA; Story Games with Mischa Krilov; Fiction with Maurice Ruffin; Poetry with Carolyn Hembree; Creative Non-Fiction with Adrian Van Young; Comic Art with Kurt Amacker; and Storyslam: Live Storytelling with Laine Kaplan-Levenson.  The day’s events will take place at from 9:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. at Lusher Charter High School (5624 Freret St.).

You can support the constructive hobbies of your favorite high schooler by buying tickets on NOCCA’s website.

This article was reposted from Press Street: Room 220, a NoleVie content partner.