from Nathan C. Martin and Friends.
Clockwise, from top left: Thomas Sayers Ellis, Barbara Nitke's "American Ecstasy," Natasha Trethewey, Ian Bogost flyer, Curtis Mann's photograph, image from Draw-A-Thon 2006, Andrew Zawacki
Clockwise, from top left: Thomas Sayers Ellis, Barbara Nitke's "American Ecstasy," Natasha Trethewey, Ian Bogost flyer, Curtis Mann's photograph, image from Draw-A-Thon 2006, Andrew Zawacki

By Nathan C. Martin

A recurring theme among conversations I have with my friends is that New Orleans largely lacks—and this phrase has almost become a joke among certain folks I know—an “elevated level of discourse.” One friend went as far as to move back to Mexico City after trying to relocate to New Orleans, having realized, after a short trip back to D.F., that a conversation he had there with a cleaning lady was more interesting than any he’d had in New Orleans in the eight previous months.

The fact is, an “elevated level of discourse” simply isn’t a priority to most New Orleanians. And I am fine with this. People in places like New York and San Francisco—particularly if they’re involved in some sort of “cultured” circle—traffic in intellectualism, in erudite opinions. The smartest person at the party will be the coolest, and a whole cadre of blowhards will invariably try to prove their claim to that position by yammering on about … whatever. It’s annoying. But—and, sorry, New Orleans, you know I love you—talking about food and football becomes tiresome after a while, too.

Fall is a busy time in New Orleans. The heat of summer has subsided, and those of us trying to put on events and organize things for people to do know we only have a precious few months before the holidays and carnival steals away the city’s attention. It begins ramping up in September, and by November it’s reached a fever pitch, as the truly remarkable number of excellent upcoming events is evidence. Take a look: If you’re one to lament the level of discourse in New Orleans, particularly among the arts and humanities, get your fill in the next few weeks. There’s so much happening. Room 220 will try its best to provide more in-depth information about many of these, and many of the pieces mentioned below are already in the works—the interview with Ian Bogost, the rundown of things to look for at the PXP colloquium, the interview with Barbara Nitke, and more.

It’s rare that the city has so many events like these in such a short timeframe, so get ready to indulge. I hope to see you out at some of them.

On Thursday, Nov. 29, at 5 p.m., Loyola University New Orleans will host a talk by philosopher Ian Bogost in the Whitney Presentation Room in Thomas Hall, on the university’s main campus (6363 St. Charles Ave.). Bogost will discuss his work and ideas related to his recently released book Alien Phenomenology: What It’s Like to Be A Thing. Room 220 will feature an interview with Bogost, conducted by Christopher Schaberg and Tim Welsh, shortly.

On Thursday, Nov. 29, at 5:30 p.m., Tulane University will host poet and translator Andrew Zawacki in the Stone Auditorium of the Woldenberg Art Center (1229 Broadway St.) on the university’s main campus. Zawacki will read from his body of poetry and translations, which includes three books of his own work and several acclaimed translations. More information on Zawacki is here.

On Thursday, Nov. 29, at 5:30 p.m., Tulane University will host a presentation by photographer Curtis Mann in the Freeman Auditorium in the Woldenberg Art Center (1229 Broadway St.) on the university’s main campus. More information on the event is here. Mann’s lecture takes place thanks to the efforts of Room 220 friend and collaborator Sophie T. Lvoff.

On Friday, Nov. 30, from 6 – 9 p.m.
, Room 220 will host a Happy Hour Salon at the Press Street HQ (3718 St. Claude Ave.) featuring a presentation by Barbara Nitke, a New York-based photographer who will be celebrating the recent release of her monograph American Ecstasy. This event takes place in conjunction with PhotoNOLA. More information about it is here. Room 220 will feature an interview with Nitke, conducted by Nathan C. Martin, as well as an excerpt of text from the monograph, shortly.

On Friday and Saturday, Nov. 30 and 31, Tulane University will host PXP 2012, a poetry colloquium that brings together international and New Orleans poets for a series of panel discussions, readings, and social events. They keynote reading on Friday at 6 p.m. will feature poets Daniel Khalastchi, Blueberry Morningsnow, Kiki Petrosino, and Michelle Taransky. Room 220 will feature an article by Cate Czarnecki that gives you the low-down on the events shortly. PXP is organized by Room 220 friend Andy Stallings.

On Saturday, Dec. 1, beginning at 6:30 a.m., Press Street will host its seventh annual 24-hour Draw-A-Thon at the Marigny Opera House (725 St. Ferdinand St.). This participatory public art extravaganza has been a cornerstone event for Press Street since the organization’s inception, and this year’s will prove to be another hit. Information about the event and a schedule of happenings to take place during the Draw-A-Thon are here.

On Sunday, Dec. 2, at 3 p.m., the MelaNated Writers will host a Literary Jook Joint featuring poet Thomas Sayers Ellis at Cafe Treme (1501 St. Phillip St.). Ellis is the founder of The Dark Room Collective in Cambridge, Mass., which served as inspiration for the creation of MelaNated. Information on the event is here. Room 220 will feature an interview with Ellis, conducted by Jewel Bush, shortly.

On Sunday, Dec. 2, from 6 – 9 p.m., Room 220 will host Barbara Nitke once again at the Press Street HQ (3718 St. Claude Ave.) during the PhotoNOLA St. Claude gallery stroll. Nitke will be on hand to talk to folks about her exhibition and monograph, but won’t be giving a presentation.

On Thursday, Dec. 6, at 7 p.m., the New Orleans Public Library will host U.S. Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey for a reading and book signing at its main branch (219 Loyola Ave.).

On Monday, Dec. 10, from 6 – 9 p.m., Room 220 will host a Happy Hour Salon at the Press Street HQ (3718 St. Claude Ave.) featuring a presentation titled “Hoping for the End of the World as We Know It” by Catherine Wessinger, an internationally renowned scholar on millennial movements. This event is part of the “End of Days” exhibition and event series at Press Street’s Antenna Gallery, which anticipates the end of the world, set to take place Dec. 21, 2012. Wessinger is the author of a number of books on millennial movements—commonly thought of as “death cults”—including three oral histories of the Branch Davidians, and How the Millennium Comes Violently: From Jonestown to Heaven’s Gate

On Thursday, Dec. 13, at 7 p.m., Room 220 will host a reading with author Moira Crone at the Press Street HQ (3718 St. Claude Ave.), also as part of the Antenna Gallery’s “End of Days” exhibition and series of events. Crone’s recently published novel, The Not Yet, takes place in the near future, in a post-apocalyptic Mississippi Delta in which decades of hurricanes have left resources slim, society radically stratified, and one young hero left to piece together a life in a world that likely resembles our own future. Room 220 will publish an interview with Crone, conducted by Ari Braverman, shortly.


Hand-in-Glove Conference Guide

Hand in Glove Conference Guide
Essay by Amy Mackie, edited by Bob Snead, designed by Erik Keisewetter

This beautiful book, designed and printed by Erik Kiesewetter of Constance for the Hand-in-Glove Conference, includes a guide to all of the conference happenings Oct 17-20, 2013, an informative map of the artist run spaces on and around St. Claude Ave, and an extensive essay by Amy Mackie about the history of self organized contemporary art [...]

Photo by Sophie Lvoff in WE'RE PREGNANT

We’re Pregnant
Words by Nathan Martin. Photography by Akasha Rabut, Sophie T. Lvoff, and Grissel Giuliano.

We’re Pregnant is a chapbook of short fiction by Room 220 editor Nathan C. Martin along with photography by Akasha Rabut, Sophie T. Lvoff, and Grissel Giuliano. The book contains three of Martin’s short stories—which explore in morbid fashion anxieties related to sex, disease, marriage, and childbirth—with images inspired by the stories from each of the photographers.

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The People Is Singular
Poems by Andy Young and Photographs by Salwa Rashad

The People Is Singular, by local poet Andy Young and Egyptian photographer Salwa Rashad, is a personal response to the Egyptian Revolution. Rashad’s vision includes everyday people—Muslims and Christians, young and old, the foregrounded and the peripheral. Her perspective is from inside the events as they unfolded. Andy Young, a New Orleans poet married to [...]

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Curtain Optional
by Brad and Jim Richard

In both poetry and prose, Brad Richard explores the influence of his father’s work on his own, as well as the experience of growing up as the son of an artist while becoming an artist himself. Jim Richard is a professor of painting at the University of New Orleans and has exhibited at the Solomon [...]


How to Rebuild a City
Edited by Anne Gisleson & Tristan Thompson w/ design and artistic direction by Catherine Burke

Beautifully designed, sometimes fun, always informative, How to Rebuild a City: Field Guide from a work in Progress, is a reflection of the many ways that New Orleanians have realized our way towards recovery, actively and creatively engaging with our communities.


Bitter Ink
by Brian Zeigler & Raymond “Moose” Jackson

BBoth originally from Detroit, cousins Brian Zeigler and Raymond “Moose” Jackson began collaborating while Brian was harboring Moose in Vermont during Katrina evacuation. While their doodling proclivities may have made them rustbelt exiles from the rest of their autoworker family, together they produce seductive aphorisms of wit and weirdness that provoke, confound and celebrate a [...]