Support young writers!


Each spring, more than 150 young New Orleans writers in grades 9 – 12 gather on a Saturday to meet authors, take workshops, and celebrate the writing life. For the past two years, I’ve had the privilege of teaching at LitFest, and the conference means so much to the students who attend. Seriously, they wait all year for LitFest, and they wear their LitFest T-shirts proudly for years afterwards.

2017 marks the 10th annual LitFest, a day-long event with screenwriting, poetry, fiction, comic art, creative non-fiction and story game workshops, spoken word performances, a youth open mic, and a guest keynote writer (TBA). Previous keynote speakers include Ricky Laurentis, Richard Siken, Deb Olin Unferth, and Lorrie Moore.


Though LitFest is a favorite event for young writers, funds are drying up! Please help me raise money to keep LitFest going for an additional ten years.

“LitFest is a great way to explore — with other quirky, imaginative students — different types of writing, like screenwriting and food writing. The minute I stepped out of LitFest last year, I wanted to sign up again!” said high school junior Ryanne Autin.

Another high school student, Clara Souvignier reflected, “There’s never a dull moment at LitFest, and what I gain from all of the lessons and workshops is really priceless. The community that comes together at LitFest is so unique, and you know when you get there that you’ll be making friends.”

The participating artists — including fiction and nonfiction writers, poets, a screenwriter, a documentary filmmaker, a dancer, and a spoken word artist — take the students seriously as writers and people. They treat the students like the aspiring professional artists that they are.

Coordinated by Lusher faculty member Brad Richard and NOCCA faculty member Lara Naughton, LitFest is a fairly inexpensive event to put on. The money we fundraise will be used to pay guest artists and workshop leaders. If we raise enough money before January 1,  we’ll be able to provide lunches for students and offer an additional afternoon workshop. Any additional funds we raise will be used to support future LitFests.

Thank you for supporting New Orleans’ promising young writers!! They are so talented and eager to learn.

Please spread this to friends, book groups, relatives, libraries, and anyone else who cares about teens and writing!

Buckets and Balloons

I wrote about Public Lab and the Louisiana Bucket Brigade, two New Orleans environmental groups that use simple tools–buckets and balloons–to find and monitor oil spills. The entire article is available at Guernica.

Petrochemical operations tend to cluster in poor and predominantly Black neighborhoods. Residents learn about the Bucket Brigade from individuals already engaged in monitoring activities. Typically, the Bucket Brigade gets involved when community groups ask for their assistance. Education, Rolfes says, is crucial because it “empowers individuals to take a stand.” Learning the names of pollutants, symptoms of exposure, data collection methods, and advocacy skills can be transformative. “It is so time consuming to win and the wins can sometimes be temporary,” Rolfes says, “but the advantages [of community science] to an individual . . . last forever. It’s not me swooping in and doing the work. It’s them. They aren’t intimidated anymore.”


I’m teaching a class called Writing The Personal Essay for the Walker Percy Center.

The class starts on March 24th and enrollment is open to the public. Here’s a description:

Writing the Personal Essay
Instructor: Anya Groner • Mondays from 7 – 9 pm • begins March 24

Classes are held at Loyola University in New Orleans
We will read and discuss the writing of essayists such as David Sedaris, Eula Biss, Joan Didion, John Jeremiah Sullivan, and others, paying special attention to the literary elements that make good writing come alive. Short, generative writing exercises will give students the opportunity to practice specific craft skills, leading up to a final project, a personal essay which we will workshop toward revision. We will also look at markets for creative nonfiction and at the process of submitting work for publication.

I’d love for you to join us! Check out my class and the other fantastic writing classes the Walker Percy Center sponsors  HERE!