Saints & Sinners literary fest's online in March

  • by Jim Provenzano
  • Sunday February 28, 2021
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 (from upper left) Farzana Doctor, Colby Byrne, Dorothy Allison, Bryan Washington (from lower left) Phil Gambone, Regie Cabico and Judy Grahn are just seven of the many authors participating in SASfest 2021.
(from upper left) Farzana Doctor, Colby Byrne, Dorothy Allison, Bryan Washington (from lower left) Phil Gambone, Regie Cabico and Judy Grahn are just seven of the many authors participating in SASfest 2021.

Literature online is now nothing new, but with an entire literary festival, from readings to panels, all online, the 18th annual Saints & Sinners LGBTQ Literary Festival, usually held in New Orleans, returns with a robust roster on March 11-14, and most events are free to the public.

The virtual SASFest will include literary discussions, writing workshops, readings, and special events, all via Zoom or YouTube. While the convivial gatherings at previous SASfests at New Orleans restaurants and bars will be missed, the online version packs the talent with literary legends and acclaimed new writers. Literary panels and discussion topics include a wide array of genres: mystery, romance, young adult, poetry, memoir vs. fiction, and short fiction.

Since 2003, Saints + Sinners Literary Festival brings together the who's who of the LGBTQ literary world. The Festival features panel discussions and writing workshops by authors, editors, and publishers for emerging writers and LGBTQ literature fans.

Among the highlights are a discussion with the Literary Luminaries of the Violet Quill —Andrew Holleran, Felice Picano, and Edmund White— and a discussion of Jewish Lesbian Literature and Activism with Elana Dykewomon, Judith Katz, Irena Klepfisz, and Michele Karlsberg.

Andrew Holleran, Felice Picano, and Edmund White  

The Reading Series includes new voices and literary icons sharing their work including Meredith Doench, Bud Gundy, Cheryl Head, Michael Lowenthal, Daniel W.K. Lee, David S. Pederson, JD Scott, Tammy Lynne Stoner, and Sassafras Lowrey; along with the winners from the festival's first annual poetry contest —Danielle Bero, Ezra Adamo, and Steven Riel and three contributors to the festival's 12th annual short fiction contest: Colby Byrne, Lisa Hines, and Laura Price Steele.

A new addition to the Festival lineup is a Conversation Series featuring authors interviewing authors. Bryan Washington will discuss his acclaimed first novel Memorial, a New York Times Noteable Book of 2020, with author Matthew Griffin.

Scholar & Poet Julie R. Enszer will host a talk with literary icon Judy Grahn regarding her new book, Eruptions of Inanna: Justice, Gender and Erotic Power.

Founder of the Son of Baldwin media community, Robert Jones, Jr. discusses his groundbreaking new novel The Prophets with The Reading Life's Susan Larson.

Bay Area author Jewelle Gomez leads a poetry workshop.  

Journalist Merryn Johns will discuss sex and censorship and the modern gay rights movement with author and political activist Naomi Wolf; and Jenn Shapland and Carlos Dews discuss their passion for the work of Carson McCullers.

SASFest also offers established and emerging LGBTQ authors, as well as students and readers, an opportunity to network via Padlet, a free community building app, and nurture their craft with a diverse array of artistic and educational offerings.

The Writing Workshop Series will feature Dorothy Allison, Michael Nava, Matthew Clark Davison, and Radclyffe. Acclaimed writer Jewelle Gomez will lead a poetry workshop, and also included is an instructional workshop from Kindle Direct Publishing to familiarize authors with their services and self-publishing options. Workshops will have a fee.

Special Events
SASfest this year will be more than books. Bay Area favorite Fauxnique (Monique Jenkinson) will perform excerpts from her provocative cabaret works and will read passages from her forthcoming drag memoir Faux Queen.

The New Orleans-based band The Slick Skillet Serenaders play a set of their 1920s and '30s-era Ragtime, Blues, and Jazz music stylings.

Members and donors to the festival can also view a partial screening and discussion of the Project Legacies documentary, In Her Words: 20th Century Lesbian Fiction.

Tubby & Coo's Mid-City Book Shop is the official bookstore of Saints and Sinners. Buy authors' books from the shop on the festival website and the store will donate a portion of sales back to the Festival. All events are free this year with the exception of the Writing Workshops. Tickets on sale at

(Arts & Nightlife Editor and author Jim Provenzano will host a panel on memoir and fiction, and participate in the reading series.)

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