New Orleans Writers Housing Outreach Project

All about progress on the New Orleans Writers Housing Outreach and New Orleans Writers Museum projects and LA Writers Foundation.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Still Moving Forward

We've been slowed by the mess and muck of post-Katrina, but not stopped. We've updated our Strategic Plan and sent it to a leading literary organization and some prominent members of the New Orleans community for financial and moral support. Surely, we can get this project done -- the Ogden Museum (art) and the World War II Museum are good examples of successful museum projects in the last 8-10 years.

We hope to preserve and promote the literary heritage of New Orleans with this very special New Orleans Writers Museum!

Monday, October 16, 2006

Writers Housing Outreach

After discussions with New Orleans Habitat for Humanity we've come up with a new moniker that will distinguish the housing program for writers and more accurately describe it: Writers Housing Outreach (WHO).

This reflects the range of housing solutions we will be developing and also the fact that homes - whether owned or rented - will be not only near to the successful Musicians Village project in the upper Ninth Ward but also scattered through the St. Roch and Treme areas as Habitat is able to acquire lots.

Habitat will be presenting information to local poets and writers at 7 PM on October 26 at the Goldmine Saloon in the 700 block of Dauphine Street before the weekly "17 Poets" series.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Contact Email for Black and White Ball Inquiries

We've set up an email account just for ticket requests and inquiries about the Black and White Masque Ball. Just send us an email at:

Thursday, October 05, 2006


Local news anchor Angela Hill has graciously agreed to be our Master of Ceremonies for the Black and White Ball. Thank you Angela!

A Change in Priorities - A Writers Village

We've forged a strategic agreement with Habitat for Humanity to provide housing solutions for New Orleans writers wishing to stay or return to the city. The program will provide transitional and permanent housing for local poets and authors.

The planned New Orleans Writers Village will be located near Habitat for Humanity’s Musicians Village development in the upper Ninth Ward area of New Orleans. It will provide affordable housing solutions for writers through rental and home ownership programs.

It will help revitalize, support and institutionalize Louisiana as a place with a rich literary environment full of stories for poets, historians, novelists, playwrights and journalists.

The impact of Hurricane Katrina has threatened our very culture and heritage. A New Orleans Writers Village will, indeed, celebrate, maintain and strengthen our contributions in the literary arts in the near and long term.

The strategic agreement between LWF and Habitat for Humanity contains three key components, with one additional component under discussion:

1) Transitional — writers may rent a two bedroom home for a year at approximately $500 per month; following this period, they would have the option to purchase the home under the standard Habitat terms and requirements. If they do not purchase the home, it will be refurbished and sold within the Habitat program;

2) Purchase — homes will be made available under the standard Habitat ownership program. These are 2-3 bedroom homes purchased at $75,000 and financed with no interest. No labor except skilled trades is included in the cost.

3) Writer-in-residence — a sponsor would pay $6000 directly to Habitat for one year of rental so the writer may focus on writing.

Thursday, September 28, 2006


Truman Capote’s Black and White Ball was easily the social event of the year. The gala, held in the Grand Ballroom of Manhattan’s Plaza Hotel on November 28, 1966, was modeled after the Ascot scene in the musical and movie, "My Fair Lady." Capote’s 540 invited guests were among the wealthiest and most powerful individuals from the realms of politics, publishing, and the arts: Andy Warhol, Frank Sinatra and Mia Farrow, Norman Mailer, William F. Buckley, Jr., Tennessee Williams, and assorted Rockefellers, Vanderbilts, and Rothschilds. Invitees to what was dubbed "The Party of the Century" were required to wear black and white evening clothes and masks, and women had to carry fans. Capote was fond of saying he invited 500 friends – and made 15,000 enemies.

Throughout his career, Truman Capote remained one of America's most controversial and colorful authors, combining literary genius with a penchant for the glittering world of high society. Though he wrote only a handful of books, his prose styling was impeccable, and his insight into the psychology of human desire was extraordinary. His flamboyant and well-documented lifestyle has often overshadowed his gifts as a writer, but over time Capote's work will outlive the celebrity.

Born in New Orleans in 1924, Capote's mother stayed at the Hotel Monteleone ( before he was born at Touro Infirmary. In childhood he was abandoned by his mother and raised by his elderly aunts and cousins in Monroeville, Alabama. As a child he lived a solitary and lonely existence, turning to writing for solace. Of his early days Capote related, "I began writing really sort of seriously when I was about eleven. I say seriously in the sense that like other kids go home and practice the violin or the piano or whatever, I used to go home from school every day and I would write for about three hours. I was obsessed by it."


What: A recreation of Truman’s Capote’s 1966 Black & White Ball

Who: An interesting mix of New Orleanians, celebrities, politicians, media and writers

When: Tuesday, November 28, 2006, 8 PM - 11:30 PM; (40th anniversary of the actual event)

Where: Hotel Monteleone, French Quarter, New Orleans (Queen Anne Ballroom)

How: Recreate the ball itself – with the same invitation style, masks, Taittinger champagne, the same midnight unmasking and buffet, and even an appearance by a Truman Capote look-alike !

Why: Fundraiser for the Louisiana Writers Foundation to build affordable housing in cooperation with New Orleans Habitat for Humanity for poets and writers wishing to stay in or return to New Orleans & also the planned New Orleans Writers Museum

Dress: Gentlemen: Black Tie and black masks; Ladies: white or black dress, white mask, fan. Jewelry: diamonds only.

Cost: $250 per ticket for couples; $150 individuals.

BY INVITATION ONLY - GET on THE LIST!! email to CapoteBlackand

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Help for Writers Wanting to Return

Writers COME HOME!

In response to the devastating effects of hurricane Katrina, A Studio in the Woods is offering eight four-week residencies from February 2 through December 31, 2006 for New Orleans visual artists, musicians, writers and performers who have lost their homes and studios in the hurricane and are displaced in other cities and communities.

Residencies provide lodging, food, studio space and uninterrupted time in the rustic natural setting on the Westbank of New Orleans. Also provided are transportation costs to and from New Orleans and within the city, a $2000 stipend and funding for materials.

For more information and application guidelines please go to or call us at 504-392-5359.

Re-grouping and Kicking It Off

We're going to get the group back together for an informal meeting on Thursday, March 23 at the Goldmine Saloon 6:30-7:30 PM. The regular weekly "17 Poets" poetry reading begins at 8 PM, for those who want to stay. We want to discuss how we might proceed and how the effects of Katrina may change our plans. We still want to pursue the New Orleans Writers Museum project - and we may get broader support now post-Katrina - but also, there may be things we can do that are more immediate, and more fundamental, like finding a way to house our poets and writers so they can return to the city.

On March 29, from 5-7 PM at Harry Anderson's Oswald's Speakeasy, we'll have our first fundraiser. We need that initial startup funding to formally incorporate and engage a nonprofit attorney. The event will be a booksigning by Robert Smallwood of his book, "The Five People You Meeet in Hell: Surviving Katrina," and Harry Anderson, featured as one of the "five people" in the book, will also sign books. A donation of $3 for every book sold will be made to LWF, and any other donations are welcome.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Grant Workshop and Regrouping

For those interested, there's a grant workshop tonight. This will be our first step in regrouping to move the project forward. Since Katrina, we want to re-think our priorities and goals.


March 8, 2006

5:30 pm to 7:30 pm

Ashe Cultural Arts Center, 1712 Oretha Castle-Haley Boulevard

Perhaps we should reach out on a more national scale to raise funding, and the opportunity to do so is a fleeting one.

Perhaps we should focus on housing for living writers, and supporting the renewal of local literary events.

Perhaps we should move forward with our, "Times-Picayune Festival of Books" idea, planned for the Fall, with help from the French Quarter Fest folks.

Perhaps it's time we take stock in ourselves, deal with the daily difficulties that Hurricane Katrina has wrought on us, and press on with our vision.

We plan to meet in a couple of weeks to regroup, renew, reorganize and plan. Put Thursday, March 23 on your calendar, and plan to stop in a little early at the weekly Goldmine Saloon 17 poets series, around 6:30.

Bring your ideas!

- Robert Smallwood

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Mardi Gras & Then Back to Work

Well, it's Mardi Gras time and we're putting it on. After this dose of much-needed New Orleans culture and tradition, we'll get back to planning our activities and support for New Orleans writers, and the New Orleans Writers Museum.

We want to recast and refocus our efforts after considering the impact of Hurricane Katrina and its threat to the New Orleans writing and artistic communities. Maybe the country, and the world, will be more giving to help us rebuild, if they know our heritage, aspirations, and plans.

- Robert Smallwood

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Update - A Little Delay Called Katrina

Well, we didn't have our press conference, of course. Most of us were trying to survive or at the very least upended after Katrina.

But a funny thing happened on the way to Johnny White's - I saw writers/editor Josh Clark, then later, when a carriage driver got a mule out and gave a bunch of a ride around the Quarter (I'd never done it, and Mr. Larry, who'd lived here 40 years hadn't either) on Saturday, 6 days after Katrina hit, who was at Molly's on Decatur?

Why, of course, Andrei Codrescu, and his friend Dave Brinks, the poet who sets up the weekly readings at the Goldmine.

We writers are a hearty bunch!

Of course, there'll be plenty written about Katrina. Andrei has written some pieces that are sometimes funny, sometimes poignant.

And when I finally did evacuate after 10 days, (to Atlanta, to enroll my son in school, then to Vegas to relax) I saw Doug Brinkley's picture in USA Today riding in a boat with Sean Penn!

We all know what it means to miss New Orleans now. Really.

And all these writers are supporters of the Writers Museum project.

We'll get it done, just a little later than we'd planned.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Press Conference Next Wednesday

We are confirmed for a press conference for 10 a.m. Wednesday, Aug. 31 at City Hall. We'll announce September as, 'Writers Appreciation Month,' and some announcements about our planned activities during the month, as well as the New Orleans Writers Museum plans.

Thank you Dean Shapiro for setting this up!

Thursday, August 25, 2005

September 8 Happy Hour Party

Thursday, September 8, 6-8 PM at the Gold Mine Saloon we'll have a happy hour party for the Louisiana Writers Foundation and planned New Orleans Writers Museum to kickoff our celebration of Writers Appreciation Month, as proclaimed by Gov. Blanco..

The Gold Mine is located at 701 Dauphine St., (corner of Dauphine and St. Peter in the French Quarter).

All volunteers, writers, poets and literary enthusiasts are welcome and drinks will be half price.

Thank you to Dave Brinks who tirelessly runs this great poetry and performance art series!

Following the party will be the weekly 17 Poets reading featuring:

Daughters of the Strongest Daughters: An Ancestral Journey featuring Sula, Rolanda, and Andy Young

Andy Young is the poetry editor of the New Laurel Review. Her poems have been featured in journals such as Exquisite Corpse, The Florida Review,Concrete Wolf, The Arts Paper and Appalachian Heritage as well as online at HOW2. Her books include the chapbook, mine(Lavender Ink) and All Fires the Fire (Erato Press). An artist-teacher at the New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts, she has been awarded an Artist Fellowship from the Louisiana Division of the Arts and the Marble Faun Award.

If you've never been to this weekly poetry reading series, you gotta try it! It's fun, enlightening, entertaining and - fun! (And sometimes it makes you think!)

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

A New Report for Fundraising Support

We're developing an easy-to-follow report for fundraising and grant applications. Here are some parts of it:

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

More Progress

We had our Planning Committee meeting last week and moved things along. We're considering a couple of alternatives for sites and also putting together a presentation in printed and PowerPoint form. We'll talk to kids in September and have a kickoff party, maybe September 8th, after the Labor Day holiday.

Here are a couple of pics from the latest meeting, which include attorney Rob Guidry, architect Bob Biery, writer/publicist Dean Shapiro, state historian Karen Leathem and myself.

Thank you to Louis Sahuc for the professional photos, and to Sal Impastato for the meeting room at Napoleon House.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Architect's Credentials

We've selected a well-qualified architectural firm to work with us on the New Orleans Writers Museum site selection and design. It's Robert Biery & Son, a local firm that has done a number of historic renovations, including the old U.S. Mint and several other historic properties. The firm does not only building design, but also interior design. Bob Biery has rendered an initial report on the first possible site, at St. Phillip & Bourbon. We will consider 2-3 other possible sites.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Jackie Clarkson Letter of Support

Thank you, Jackie!

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Next Meeting - August 11

Our next organizational meeting will be 6-7:30 PM, on Thursday, August 11, at Napoleon House. (Thank you, Sal Impastato). We will meet upstairs on the second floor. Please try to attend!

We've attracted the interest of a nationally-recognized architect for the design and renovation work of the target location. We also may have a possible six-figure donor that can jump start us in August. Further, a senior manager of a leading N.O. non-profit arts organization has expressed interest in a management position with our new organization. That's all good news!

Also, bluesman Coco Robichaux has offered to speak to New Orleans schoolchildren about the importance of writing in his craft during the September, 'Writers Appreciation Month.' Other volunteers for that?

Jeff Crouere Joins Volunteers on PR Committee

Local radio & TV political commentator Jeff Crouere, host of 'Ringside Politics' and 'Politics with a Punch' has volunteered to sit on our PR committee.

Thanks Jeff!

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Committee Volunteers & Meeting Reminder

We've had some great news in the past week: Councilmember Jackie Clarkson has sent a letter of support, and several volunteers for committee work have thrown their hat in the ring to help the effort! So far, we have:

Building Committee - Paul St. Raymond

Collections/exhibits Chair - Gary Smith, Chatgris Press

Events Chair - Dottie Belletto, Prime Productions

Finance - Bonnie Broome, AT&T

Fundraising Chair - Robert Smallwood, IMERGE Consulting

Governance Chair - Rob Guidry, Abbott, Simses Law Firm

Marketing Chair - Elena Reeves, Tchop Shop Media

Membership Chair - Josh Clark, Light of New Orleans Publishing

Public Relations Chair- Dean Shapiro

And there is more good news too, but we can't quite announce it yet!

Also - just a reminder, our next meeting is Wednesday, July 20, 12 Noon - 1 PM, at Fairgrinds Coffeehouse, (upstairs).