Early on when I was a newbie in college, I met a lady who would change my life. The thing is, I doubt she knows what an impact she had on me or the importance of that influence. I met Bev Marshall during my sophomore year when our English instructor was out and her "writer friend" was subbing. She came in to yes, watch over our chaotic class, but also to read us a few of her short stories. My instructor, Mrs. Bradley told me that when she met Bev and asked her what she did for a living, she responded, without a blink and said, "I'm a writer."
Not many have the chutzpa to say that. So many of us writer types know what we want to be. We all have that dream of being debt free, of having what we write pay our mortgages and beat back our student loan officers. And while I'm pretty sure writing hasn't made Bev a millionaire (who knows, I could be wrong), it is her indelible strength and confidence that has endeared so many to her. She's a classy southern lady and, beyond that, she's an impeccable writer.
Writing in college became commonplace for me. I studied under two great and prolific novelists as I've exhaustively mentioned on this blog. Part of the tutelage I experienced with them both was a certain literary festival in New Orleans. The Tennessee Williams Festival celebrates the playwright's life in the city and the unflappable style with which he created, in my opinion, some of the best pieces of fiction art our country has ever seen.
Sadly, due to the ravages that have fallen on the city during Katrina and the asinine budget cut our "good" Governor has seen fit to institute, the festival is in very real danger of ending. For twenty-five years the festival has ushered in some of the greatest local and international artists, writers, actors, directors and even Williams' one of a kind brother.
Bev showed me, through her active participation on the festival board, that writers need each other. She showed me that whatever stage in your writing career or whether you're simply a fan of the written word, commraderie among the creative must be cultivated. It must be fostered by helping and learning from one another. This festival has done so much for me. I have learned more from the writers on various panels and from Bev than I could possibly express to you here.
New Orleans and our entire state for that matter, has been ravaged quite brutally over the past five years. We have seen life-long residents still absent from the city. We have seen our locals lose so much because of the storm and in the Gulf because of the oil spill. We're still fighting, but sometimes that fight can be more than we can handle.
Pepsi is offering fifty thousand dollars to organizations of the Gulf Coast who have been affected by the damages done on her shores. The Tennessee Williams Festival is one tiny spot away from being among the top ten recipients of this award.
I am asking a favor from each of you. I'm not asking you to give money. I'm not asking for a handout. I am simply asking that you give the festival two minutes of your time. Please vote and share information about this award. Log on here to vote for the festival and help them to celebrate their twenty-fifth anniversary and the one hundredth birthday of Mr. Williams the way only the Big Easy can.
We appreciate it more than you can know!
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