25, 2020, THE BIRTHDAY
The Pirate’s Alley Faulkner Society was founded September 25, 1990, by  professional men and women who wished to bolster the long literary heritage of New Orleans and its Deep South Region, enhance the national reputation of New Orleans as an important art and intellectual destination, provide  entertaining and enlightening literary programs for the general reading public and writers, both the established and those striving for literary achievement. Our 30-year anniversary celebration has, of course, been put on hold until there is victory over the plague.

 Too dangerous still to human health and well being are the usual pleasures of life in New Orleans—sharing good food and drink placed carefully on white-clothed tables by the charmingly irreverent wait staff of the city’s celebrated dining establishments, listening to good music in clubs and music halls, celebrating life at the city’s eclectic variety of festivals.  However, we can use  time on our hands in mandatory isolation or wise self-quarantining for enriching the mind and soul. Join me as we enter the 31st year of the Faulkner Society’s commitment to its mission by selecting one or two of Mr. Faulkner’s famous works to re-read or read for the first time.

You will find a ton of imparted wisdom and insight in his words, valuable to us all as we attempt to navigate today’s rekindling of the Civil Rights movement and the well-justified demands for an end to all of the vicious forms of discrimination which create a de facto form of slavery by depriving fellow human beings of freedom from fear, equality of opportunity, and justice under the law. Mr. Faulkner grappled with these issues in his work with a desperate hope that wrongs could be righted without tearing asunder again entire communities and states and, indeed, a nation. He recognized that hate was the barrier to setting things straight and that hate was the deadly weapon that would be used by those in power to stay in power, regardless of the consequences. Michael Gorra’s new book, The Saddest Words: William Faulkner’s Civil War, delves into Faulkner’s conflict, a conflict deeply rooted in the American mindset.

Now, decades since his death,  power brokers are again stirring a cauldron of hate that could, if we are not very, very careful, boil over into a second civil war.  Let us take Mr. Faulkner’s warning and combat hate with the more powerful tools: love and kindness and charity and rejection of those without empathy for those whose rights are daily trampled.

Mr. Faulkner feared he and his work would be forgotten.  You can make certain that does not happen by buying one of his books and reading it and, then, sharing it with others. Faulkner House Books stocks his work and you also  can get a copy of Gorra’s Faulkner exploration there. The store is happy to take your electronic payment and mail the book to you. Call the good folks there at (504) 524-2940 or e-mail faulknerhouse@gmail.com. I am re-reading Flags in the Dust, a good beginning for my plan to read as much of his work as possible during the coming year.

This master of the literary arts struggled mightily to create a body of work for the ages and his struggle, which was rewarded with the Nobel Prize for Literature, is an inspiration to those writers struggling to make their mark.  A major part of the Faulkner Society’s mission is providing programs to help developing writers improve their work and get it published.  A great birthday gift for Mr. Faulkner would be a donation to the Society to help us continue our work on behalf of writers and their readers.  You can send your checks to the Faulkner Society, 6028-30 Prytania Street, New Orleans, LA  70118 or make a credit card donation on the “Order” page of this website.

We look forward to being with you all in person at a Faulkner Society literary event…when it is safe again!  Until then, read, mask, social distance, avoid crowds, and live!

Rosemary James
Co-Founder, Pirate’s Alley Faulkner Society


The Faulkner Society’s most popular project with writers is The William Faulkner – William Wisdom Creative Writing Competition, founded in 1992 attracting between 1,500 and 3,000 entries annually in eight categories: Novel, Narrative Non-Fiction Book, Novella, Short Story, Novel-in-Progress, Essay, Single Poem, and Short Story by a High School Student with cash prizes ranging from $7,500 for novel to $1,000 for High School Short Story. In 2019 we added a ninth category, Poetry Collection. 
Winners for the 2019 competition can be viewed here.
We will be posting all short lists this week and all others who placed in the various
categories next week.

The Short List for the 2020 Novel Category has been sent to the final round judge for that category, Cindy Speigel. Manuscripts selected for the Short List are as follows:
Hang Me the Moon
The Space Between
Maddie Duell
Suppose I Say Hummingbird
Ghosts of Charleston
Greetings From Asbury Park

The Short List for the 2020 Non-Fiction Book Category has been sent to the final round judge for that category, Jeff Kleinman of the Folio Literary Agency. The manuscripts selected for the Short List are:
My Beautiful Tigers
Surrender: A Memoir of Nature, Nurture, and Love

Voices of the City: Interviews With New Orleans Artists
The Movie Star, an Alzheimer’s Patient, and the Easter Ham Between Them

The Short List for the 2020 Novella Category has been selected and manuscripts have been sent to Fiction Writer and Artist Moira Crone for final round judging.  The Short List Selections are:
A Brooklyn Tale
Be Everything, Brothers
First Year Experience
The Choice
The Incredible Story of Nemaw Betty and the Bandit Aloysius
When Our Heroes Were Young

Society Winner Success!
The Society maintains its close ties to previous winners of the Faulkner – Wisdom Competition and it has been heartwarming to all of us working on Society projects to learn of winner success stories. The latest dispatch is from Barnes Carr, a frequent finalist and a previous winner of the Society’s Gold Medal for Short Story. Living in Houston today, Barnes, a native of Mississippi,  previously worked for The Times-Picayune and lived in New Orleans for years. His new book, The Lenin Plot, a Faulkner-Wisdom Competition finalist, has attracted important national attention. Barnes was interviewed recently for the National Archives in Washington regarding The Lenin Plot. He was introduced by David Ferriero, Archivist of the United States, and interviewed by Vin Arthey, British historian and journalist. Here is a link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M4sV56aMG4Y&t=2306s
The interview is preceded by some promos which you can skip.
And Barnes Scores Yet Again

A new dispatch from Barnes regarding his new book, The Lenin Plot:
Another Lenin promo from the NYT. First an online review, then a review in their book section, and now this. Somebody up there seems to like us. 

See link below for the latest New York Times recognition and recommendation to read:


Congratulations, Barnes!

The Competition Closed to 2020 Entries
on November 1. Judging for the 2020
William Faulkner – William Wisdom Competition Is In Progress
The Pirate’s Alley Faulkner Society, like all non-profits, is operating with limited resources during the current, dreadful pandemic. To date, we have been fortunate in that none of our board member/volunteer administrators have been struck by the virus but because of social distancing and other pandemic guidelines, operations and responses to queries have been limited and difficult, as we are without our usual volunteer staff. So, please forgive us for all of  the delays in communication.  The Society’s 2020 competition opened on December 1, 2019 and, after several deadline extensions requested because of the pandemic, judging is in progress. We are happy to report that these extensions resulted in satisfying our competition bylaws which require receipt of a specific minimum number of entries for each category.  The minimum number of entries was reached by November 1 for all nine categories.
The 2021 Competition Opened for Entries:
December 1, 2020.

Entries: All entries, as usual, are to be sent electronically as word doc or doc X or pdf attachments to faulkhouse@aol.com. We do not accept google docs. We will soon be able to once again accept credit card entry fees online at our secure website on the “Order” page, with a $5 handling fee for each entry.  Credit cards are to be accepted through our website order page only. You may also enter with personal checks, money orders, or cash attached to the required hard copy of the entry form sent by snail mail, postmarked prior to midnight, May 15, 2021.
Our new snail mail address is:
The Faulkner Society
C/O Rosemary James
6028-30 Prytania Street
New Orleans, LA  70118
Please do not send entries or other correspondence to our previous address on Pirate’s Alley. The Faulkner Society no longer operates out of that address.
Our e-mail address remains the same: faulkhouse@aol.com.
Because of current volunteer personnel issues, please submit all queries by e-mail.
The correct current telephone number is:
(504) 491-8859.

Guidelines For Competition for 2021

2021 Festival, Save the TENTATIVE Dates:
September 24 – September 27

Note: The 2021 Festival will have the same theme we were planning for 2020:
The Impact of the Classics on Life, Literature, & Music
While we are continuing the competition for 2020, we were not be able to stage the Faulkner Festival this year. We will present 2020 winners at the 2021 festival with 2021 winners so that this year’s winners can enjoy the fun and agent/editor benefits of a complete festival.  While the decision to forego a 2020 festival has been very sad for us, as this is our 30th anniversary year, we did not wish to put our literary friends…or anyone…at risk from the virus. And the virus case rate remains even more of a serious problem today than when we determined to cancel the 2020 festival. With the recent announcements of three promising new vaccines,
we now believe we will be able to stage a festival during September 2021. Introduction of all 2020 AND 2021 winners and attending runners-up and finalists will be at  Faulkner for All, the Society’s gala 30th annual meeting on Mr. Faulkner’s birthday, September 25.
Pictured at left are two of the 2019 Competition judges—Rodger Kamenetz, Poetry Collection, left; AndreiCodrescu, Non-Fiction Book—with Celina “Cindy”  Speigel, one of the nation’s legendary
literary editors recently turned literary agent, who was a critiquing faculty member for the 2019 festival featuring Faulkner’s The Wild Palms as focus book for the festival. We expect to present highly qualified professionals like these again for the 2021 festival. Rodger Kamenetz, who created the Poetry Collection category, is once again judging for the 2020. At right,
Codrescu, center, is shown presenting his winner, Catherine Raven of Emigrant, MT, and runner-up, Benjamin Aleshire of New Orleans. Catherine was signed by Cindy Speigel for her non-fiction book
Wild Tail and has been working with Catherine
the last year, getting ready to offer the book for sale. This year, Cindy is judging the novel competition.  Authors Maurice Carlos Ruffin and Moira Crone are shown below left. Moira, who previously won gold medals for both the Short Story (Dream State) and Novella (The Ice Garden) categories, is a distinguished fiction writer of such works as the story collection What Gets Into Us and the novel, The Not Yet, was recognized for her body of work with the  Robert Penn Warren Award. She has judged several categories of the competition and selected Maurice to win the gold medal for Best Novel-in-Progress. His novel, We Cast A Shadow, has since been completed and published by Random House to widespread national literary acclaim.  Maurice judged the 2019 Novel-in-Progress category  and Moira judged the 2019  Novella category.  Moira also found an agent for her new novel in the works, Maddie Duell, through the Society’s festival. She is working with literary agent Lisa Leshne,  who was a critiquing agent for the festival. The 2019 gala, presented at the exquisite Peter and Paul boutique hotel, was described by long-time attendees as the best ever.  We have begun work to make the 2021 festival even more enlightening and entertaining for writers and their readers.

In 2021, advice sessions and manuscript critiques for registered writers will take place from 8:30 a. m. to 4:30 p.m. on the 25th and 8:30 to 10:00 a. m. on the 26th and 27th, with literary discussions beginning daily at 10:30 both days. In addition to opening sessions on the 24th, there will be literary discussions from 10:30 to 5:30 on the 26th; and 10:30 to 3:30 on the 27th. In the meantime, we need your support and encouragement to keep the Society afloat until Louisiana and, specifically, New Orleans is healthy again. Please consider joining the Society. Membership fees can be paid on the secure “Order” page of this site.

To get a comprehensive idea of the festival, Society annual meeting and gala, Click Here for a low resolution pdf copy of the 2019 festival program.

The Faulkner Society has had the good fortune over the years to be selected by the National Endowment of the Arts and its administrative partner Arts Midwest to create a number of BIG READ projects, designed to break the dreadful cycle of illiteracy that plagues America by encouraging youngsters to delve into good literature. Envisioned originally by First Lady Laura Bush, BIG READ was created in the wake of an important national survey which revealed that functional illiteracy was increasing dramatically in the United States.
The NEA created a list of of literary works it considers essential reading.  Each year various non-profits compete for grants from NEA to create projects focusing on a book on the NEA list, some contemporary and some classics by authors of the past. In 2019, the Society selected Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones, whose more recent bestseller was an Oprah selection, An American Marriage. Ms. Jones was a sell out hit with Faulkner Society audiences, scheduling her key appearances concurrent with the Happy Birthday, Mr. Faulkner! festival. For more on this important NEA program, click on BIG READ. For more on Ms. Jones, Click here

The Faulkner Society’s annual prelude to the celebration of Easter—six free public concerts featuring major types of the music created and enjoyed by New Orleanians for three centuries—opens traditionally a week after Fat Tuesday. The period following Mardi Gras day is the Lenten season, which opens on Ash Wednesday, the period when Christians reflect on the meaning of Christ’s death on the Cross and characterized by abstinence and charitable outreach to the disadvantaged. The concerts are free with expenses underwritten by patrons in advance. Voluntary collections taken at the end of each concert benefit the poor. We were unable to stage the series as a Lenten series in 2020 and will not be able to stage the series for Lent 2021 because of the pandemic and the need for social distancing, etc. We are considering the possibility of an August series
instead. Our ability to stage it then, depends, again, on the pandemic status. The beneficiary of the next series, regardless of timing, will be St. Jude Community Center, one of the city’s most important resources for servicing the poor. Venue for the series is St. Mary’s Chapel of the historic Ursuline Convent. The chapel has extraordinary accoustics and is provided to the series by the Society’s partners, The Archdiocese of New Orleans and St. Louis King of France Cathedral Basilica.  Proceeds from the concert series always are designated for charities which support the indigent.
The Theme for the Next Series
The 2020 theme, which was to have been  “The Amadeus Syndrome: The Influence of the Classics on Contemporary Music,” will be the theme for the next series, regardless of timing.

The Society is actively soliciting donations from individuals and funding agencies so
that the series can continue to be offered free to the general public and we can continue to serve the poor of New Orleans.

he Pirate’s Alley Faulkner Society, a nationally recognized non-profit arts organization, is a 501 (c) (3) literary and educational institution and, as such, grant donations, membership contributions, and contributions to our fundraisers are fully tax-deductible.

Important projects of the Faulkner Society include:

  • The Double Dealer literary journal.
  • Outreach programs for high school and college students.
  • Literacy projects in cooperation with other organizations, including BIG READ projects funded in part by grants from the National Endowment for the Arts.
  • Continuing education programs for writers and readers.
  • A year-round calendar of literary events—such as My New Orleans and Meet the Author.
  • The William Faulkner-William Wisdom Creative Writing Competition.
  • Happy Birthday, Mr. Faulkner!, our annual four-day founders celebration honoring our namesake, Nobel laureate William Faulkner, saluting all great writers: past, present, and yet to come. 

Our programs are designed to honor and assist writers, provide high quality literary entertainment for general public readers, and combat the growing national disgrace of illiteracy. Many of our programs are offered free or at discounted rates to students and the general reading public, with special programming benefits for members and sponsors.

A New Generation of Services to Readers
The Faulkner Society was created in 1990 with a mission of providing realistic assistance to developing writers, creating literacy initiatives and continuing education for adults in literature and writing, and presenting high-quality literary programming for readers. One overall goal has been to help enhance the national image of New Orleans as a cultural and intellectual destination. Our programming year begins annually with our founders celebration, including William Faulkner’s birthday, September 25th. We will complete our 30th year on September 25, 2020.

Membership Drive is Underway Now
If you have not already become a member or sponsor in the current programming year, come join us as we continue our new generation of literary services for readers and writers. We invite you to become members of the Society and secure the Society’s future. For membership levels and benefits, please visit our convenient ordering page HERE.

Memberships include invitations to all events, both ticketed and free, public events. Annual free events include our series of free, public concerts organized to benefit the poor of New Orleans which take place on Tuesdays during Lent at the historic Ursuline Convent complex and our year-round calendar of free, public literary events in the two series Meet the Author and My New Orleans.


As many of you already know, the Pirate’s Alley residence and business were sold to new owners last fall and Faulkner House Books is continuing operations under these most difficult of circumstances.  The new owners of the bookstore, Garner Robinson and Devereaux Bell, have pledged to continue the support the bookstore always has provided to the non-profit Faulkner Society. They have come up with a wonderful idea for dedicated readers utilizing the longstanding literary experience of store manager Joanne Sealy, a terrific reader and judge of good literature for a broad variety of reading tastes.  They have established a subscription service.  You can join at various levels and fill out a form that includes descriptions of the kinds of books you like and Joanne will select new books especially for you and send them to you monthly.  It’s a great idea any time but now during this era of staying at home to stay safe, when reading is a great escape from our home prison cells, it is a fabulous way to get the books you want without getting in harm’s way. 
It’s also a great way to help ensure that a great patron of literature, Faulkner House Books, is around to serve you and support the Faulkner Society when the plague fades into the background. For more information, contact Joanne at the bookstore, (504) 524-2940.  (Yes, the new owners are keeping their staff on in spite of the fact that the store itself…a space very tight for social distancing…is open with limited customers allowed to enter at any one time, straining the store’s ability to reach its normal level of revenues.)

You can also e-mail garner@faulknerhousebooks.com or devereaux@faulknerhousebooks.com for more information. Finally, visit www.faulknerhousebooks.com for literary updates. We look forward to seeing you all at a Faulkner gathering in the not too distant future.
For now: keep on reading and writing and stay safe!

We have launched a major fundraising campaign to commemorate more than a generation of service annually to some 7,500 writers and readers and to our beloved City of New Orleans, which was 300 years old in 2018.  To help us continue the impact, e-mail us at faulkhouse@aol.com. We welcome offers of volunteer service as well as financial contributions. To join our number,  E-mail us at faulkhouse@aol.com for a membership form and membership benefits summary.

Major Projects
The Society’s most ambitious annual undertakings are:

  • William Faulkner – William Wisdom Creative Writing Competition.
  • Happy Birthday, Mr. Faulkner! This is a four-day literary celebration including our annual salute
    to our namesake, our gala black-tie annual meeting and fundraiser, literary critiques, presentation of
    new work by scholars and authors, and presentation of the winners of our international literary
  • Workshops, Master Classes, Manuscript Critiques for Developing Writers.
  • Literacy Initiatives for those At-Risk for Illiteracy, Including National Readathon Day, NEA sponsored BIG READ projects, and partnerships with the English Speaking Union and One Book One New Orleans.
  • The Double Dealer literary journal and Student Intern Program.
  • Free public sessions of Meet the Authors and My New Orleans events for dedicated readers.
  • Joint Ventures with other non-profits to embellish the Louisiana’s available cultural resources. Joint ventures include major partnerships with other non-profit institutions and businesses.









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