Loyolans showcase their work at literary festival


Maleigh Crespo

Panelists (L-R) AJ Dolman, Wes Jamison, Leone Beasley, and Emma X Lirette engage with moderator Delaney McLemore at the literary festival on March 26, 2023. Lirette is Loyola alumna.

Maleigh Crespo, Design Chief

The Tennessee Williams and New Orleans Literary Festival set the stage for Loyola professors and alumni to talk about their writing focuses.

The week-long literary event kicked off their 37th year at Hotel Monteleone on March 22. Subsequently, the Saints and Sinners LGBTQ+ Literary Festival, which is a program of the fest, hosted their 20th annual two-day program at the hotel on March 24.

The English Department gave free tickets for the event to English majors and minors.

English professor and festival panelist C.W. Cannon said the event was well-attended and has been since the merging of Tennessee Williams Festival with Saints and Sinners Festival, contrary to most academic and literary conference panels.

“The Tennessee Williams Festival really is the New Orleans Jazz Fest of literary events,” he said.

Cannon and fellow English professor Christopher Schaberg were panelists in respective literary discussions. Cannon, who writes about social and political landscapes, contributed to a panel centered around cityscapes. Schaberg, who writes about airports and fly-fishing, contributed to a panel inspired by passion projects and writing about what you love.

“The ornate ballrooms of the Monteleone Hotel were lovely spaces for discussions,” Cannon said. “It was also a well-designed panel, with good, focused questions from the moderator.”

Cannon said the content of his contributions were pretty exact to what he teaches in his classes at Loyola, specifically his New Orleans studies classes.

“The panel audience got what my students get every day I teach,” he said.

Author and Loyola alumnus, Emma X Lirette, was another panelist at the festival. Lirette, who is a graduate of the English program, said that the program laid the groundwork for her career.

“There was this community around writing that really set a foundation for my writing career,” she said.

Along with the Loyola English Department, the Loyola Theatre Arts and Dance Department also played an active role in the festival.

The Tennessee Williams Theatre Company, which has had a professional residency at Loyola since 2019, hosted a production of “Night of the Iguana”, a play written by Tennessee Williams, in the Lower Depths Theater.

Loyola musical theatre students PJ Ruffins and Lauren Van Mullem played the roles of Charlotte Goodall and Keighlieyghe Fahrenkopf, and Loyola alumna Maddie Taliancich served as production manager for the play.

Van Mullem said that Loyola’s partnership with the theatre company was the main draw for her attending Loyola because she saw no other universities offering the opportunity to work with companies with the same production quality.

“It’s a big benefit for Loyola to facilitate this experience,” she said. “And I’m just very thankful I got to be a part of the show.”