A Celebration of Literature and Art: Writers and Readers Symposium, slated for Feb. 21, marks the arrival of four published and acclaimed writers representing the genres of fiction, nonfiction, creative nonfiction and poetry — Moira Crone, a New Orleans novelist and short story writer; Louisiana Poet Laureate Ava Haymon; mystery writer Abigail Padgett, whose latest book is set in the St. Francisville area; and writer-photographer Richard Sexton.
Crone was born in North Carolina and attended the University of North Carolina and Smith College, studying writing at Johns Hopkins University. After living in Boston and Baltimore, she moved to Baton Rouge, where she directed the Master of Fine Arts Program in Creative Writing at LSU, and then to New Orleans, where she lives with her husband, Rodger Kamenetz, a writer, poet and therapist.
In 2009, Crone received the Robert Penn Warren Award for Fiction from the Fellowship of Southern Writers.
In 2013, her novel, “The Not Yet,” was short-listed for the Philip K. Dick Award, for paperback original science fiction novel of year. Her fiction and nonfiction have been published in numerous magazines and featured in several anthologies including a comprehensive anthology of New Orleans Literature spanning three centuries.
Crone’s newest book, “The Ice Garden” is called by Lee Smith, “a story as dazzling and dangerous as ice, a heart stopper. This may just be the most haunting and memorable novel you will ever read.”
Mystery writer Padgett
“Padgett is a prime example of writing what you know,” says St. Francisville native Anne Butler, an author and local historian.
Padgett graduated from Indiana University, Bloomington, in 1964 with a degree in education and earned a master’s in counseling from the University of Missouri in 1969. Between the two, she taught high school English in St. Louis. She had several different jobs before becoming a court investigator for Child Protective Services in San Diego, a post she left in 1988 to concentrate on writing and advocacy for children and the mentally ill.
Her experiences formed the basis for Padgett’s early mystery novels, a series translated into multiple languages and one made into a movie that features a child protection advocate who suffers from bipolar disorder, according to Butler.
Padgett’s latest novel, “An Unremembered Grave,” is about a prescient New York history professor ensconced in a Louisiana plantation who is caught up in a web of intrigue involving an innocent inmate and a courtly vampire unearthed at nearby Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola.
The author has knowledge of Louisiana plantations, as she often visits one of St. Francisville’s historic plantation bed and breakfasts, and the nearby state prison, Butler said.
“The prison scenes in ‘An Unremembered Grave’ are riveting and absolutely spot-on,” says Butler.
For years, Padgett had a professional literary connection with one of the more astute writers for Angola’s award-winning magazine, The Angolite. The collaboration engendered such mutual respect that upon the prisoner’s death, she honored his plea that he not be buried on prison grounds to spend eternity behind bars, Butler said.
Padgett lives in San Diego and is author of dozens of books.
Sexton has a strong architecture and art background and uses those to spot the elegance amidst the decadence while celebrating the colorful remnants of Creole culture even in the most desolate Caribbean slum or New Orleans housing project, according to Butler.
For four decades, Sexton has roamed the Latin Caribbean capturing architectural and urban similarities connecting New Orleans’ Creole heritage with colonial cultures in Argentina, Columbia, Cuba, Ecuador, Haiti and Panama as well as other historic locales.
Compelling documentary images from his travels, taken from Sexton’s latest book, “Creole World: Photographs of New Orleans and the Latin Caribbean Sphere, have formed the basis for exhibits in galleries and museums such as the Historic New Orleans Collection, also publisher of the book.
A Georgia native who has lived in New Orleans since 1991, Sexton cherishes the easy lifestyle and cultural gumbo of the Crescent City, calling it “a place that reminds me that architecture isn’t just about issues of style. Architecture is the theater where the dramas of life unfold. It’s a big part of how we interact with each other.”
Sexton’s images have documented architectural and natural treasures of Pointe Coupee Parish, the River Road and other locales from California to Florida. Sexton joins the three other celebrated authors for the Writers and Readers Symposium to share their creative processes both individually and in moderated panel discussions with audience participation at Hemingbough Convention Center Saturday in St. Francisville.
Also part of the symposium is a visual art exhibit featuring juried photographs with connections to literature. Haymon is scheduled to teach a poetry workshop for Bains Elementary School students on Friday and join Padgett in presenting a writer’s workshop for mature aspiring and professional authors Feb. 28 at Butler Greenwood Plantation.
Padgett is set to teach a prose workshop at West Feliciana High School incorporating memoir and fiction writing, according to Georgia Dudley of WFHS, coordinator of the workshop.
“I am so pleased the students will be able to have this educational experience with a nationally acclaimed novelist,” Dudley said.
Tickets for the symposium include parking, individual author presentations and panel discussions, book signings, refreshments, lunch and a dessert reception with the authors.
Visit www.brownpapertickets.com for tickets, which are $50 if purchased in February, but $60 at the door.
Seating is limited; early reservations are encouraged.