The annual Words & Music festival has long celebrated the novelist William Faulkner, whose books are rightly considered classics in American literature. This year, Words & Music takes a new approach to classics, in a program that includes a dose of Homer along with more contemporary fare. Thomas Cahill, author of Sailing the Wine-Dark Sea: Why the Greeks Matter, will be in attendance, along with the poet Robert Fagles, whose celebrated translations include The Iliad and The Odyssey.
The American classic The Great Gatsby also receives its due this year, including a panel discussion and a costumed reading staged by Rob Florence. Critic Camille Paglia, author of Sexual Personae, will discuss Tennessee Williams' Suddenly, Last Summer (as well as make other appearances at the festival).
Participating authors also include John Biguenet, Ken Wells, Rodger Kamenetz, Tom Piazza, Robert Olen Butler, Kaye Gibbons and Andrei Codrescu. Events include the Second Annual Tall Tales Competition. Led by humorist Roy Blount Jr., the competition is sure to produce at least a few impromptu classics.
This year, Gambit Weekly talked with Words & Music, 2004 participants Cahill, The Return of the Godfather author Mark Winegardner, poet Edward Hirsch and musician Chris Thomas King, who appears at a festival session devoted to narrative song. Our conversations follow. Words & Music, 2004, takes place Thursday, Dec. 2, through Monday, Dec. 6, at Hotel Monteleone, Royal Orleans Hotel and other locations; for a complete schedule and other information, visit www.wordsandmusic.org.