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An Evening with Tom Piazza and Friends
May 1 • 6:00 pm - 7:30 pm
Join us Monday, May 1st at 6 pm for an evening with Tom Piazza, author of The Auburn Conference!
Mr. Piazza will be joined by Roy Blount Jr. and Sister Helen Prejean who will read selections from The Auburn Conference.
This event is free to attend.
It is 1883, and America is at a crossroads. At a tiny college in Upstate New York, an idealistic young professor has managed to convince Mark Twain, Frederick Douglass, Herman Melville, Walt Whitman, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Confederate memoirist Forrest Taylor, and romance novelist Lucy Comstock to participate in the first (and last) Auburn Writers’ Conference for a public discussion about the future of the nation. By turns brilliantly comic and startlingly prescient, The Auburn Conference vibrates with questions as alive and urgent today as they were in 1883—the chronic American conundrums of race, class, and gender, and the fate of the democratic ideal.
Tom Piazza’s twelve books include A Free State. He was a principal writer for the HBO series Treme, and is a
Grammy award winner for his album notes to Martin Scorsese Presents the Blues: A Musical Journey. He lives in New Orleans.
Roy Blount Jr. is the author of Alphabet Juice, Alphabetter Juice (or The Joy of Text), Save Room for Pie, Be Sweet, and twenty other books whose subjects include the movie Duck Soup (“delightfully erudite”– Times), the 70s Pittsburgh Steelers (“Deserves a place on the short shelf of the cracked masterpieces of New Journalism” — Dwight Garner in the Times), and Robert E. Lee (“A miniature masterpiece” — Bookpage). He is from Georgia, and yet James Walcott, in New Criterion, maintained that Blount, with others, “pioneered The New Yorker as a clubhouse of postmodernism.” Robert Pinsky compared him to “the old borscht belt masters.” Norman Mailer called his book Crackers “as funny as anything I’ve read in a long time.” Michael Dirda, in the Washington Post, said Blount “possesses what was called in the Italian Renaissance ‘sprezzatura.’ He has also been on the radio a lot. His current focus is on his Substack.com newsletter, Take Another Little Piece of My Heart Now.
Sister Helen Prejean has worked for decades to spark a national dialogue on capital punishment, and has been instrumental in shaping the Catholic Church’s vigorous opposition to all executions. As part of the Sisters of St. Joseph, Prejsean has taught high school, served as the Religious Education Director at St. Frances Cabrini Parish, and served as a spiritual advisor to inmates on death row—an experience about which she wrote her book Dead Man Walking: An Eyewitness Account of the Death Penalty in the United States.