Tom Piazza, the Colleges’ first Trias resident writer, was featured in the Finger Lakes Times. Piazza will begin his residency at the Colleges this fall.
“One of the things that was appealing about [the Trias Residency] is that it has been designed so that the visiting writer will have as much time as possible to do his or her own work,” Piazza is quoted. “I actually think it will help me get work done on this new novel, because I’ll be away from many of the distractions that one always faces in one’s normal, day-to-day life.”
More information about Piazza and the residency is online. The full article from the Finger Lakes Times follows.
Finger Lakes Times
New Orleans writer to serve as HWS program’s resident
Heather Swanson • June 1, 2011
Geneva probably doesn’t get compared to the Big Easy too often, but for New Orleans writer Tom Piazza, the two are perhaps not as different as one might expect.
Piazza visited Geneva this spring and will return in the fall to join Hobart and William Smith Colleges as the first resident for the Peter Trias Residency for Writers program.
The position was established by The Peter Trias ’70 Endowed Fund for Poetry and Creative Writing to attract accomplished poets and writers for year-long appointments.
Piazza, a Grammy recipient and award-winning author of nine books, will teach advanced writing workshops, organize a reading series, offer public readings and participate in community service events.
Long a resident of New Orleans, Piazza fell in love with the city as a teenage jazz fan, visiting for the first time in 1987 for the Jazz Fest.
“I moved to New Orleans in the fall of 1994,” he said. “That mixture of the food, the music, the lovely houses and the relaxed way of life – they brought me down here originally, and they’ve kept me here.”
He will leave his beloved city, albeit temporarily, to spend the fall in Geneva, followed by a low-residency presence at HWS in the spring. It is a prospect he is looking forward to.
Geneva “seemed like a very alive community, certainly at the college,” he said, adding he has not yet had as much time as he would like to explore the city.
One of the things he noticed, though, was the ethnic and economic diversity of Geneva.
“Being from New Orleans, which is one of the most economically and ethnically diverse places imaginable, I like that very much,” he said.
Piazza is working on his next novel and writing for the HBO series “Treme,” both of which he will be able to continue while in Geneva.
“One of the things that was appealing about [the Trias Residency] is that it has been designed so that the visiting writer will have as much time as possible to do his or her own work,” Piazza said. “I actually think it will help me get work done on this new novel, because I’ll be away from many of the distractions that one always faces in one’s normal, day-to-day life.”
Though he declined to talk in detail about his new novel, calling it “bad luck to talk too much about a work in progress,” he said it is set, at least in part, in New York City.
Piazza grew up on Long Island and spent time in New York City before making his way west.
He is, however, willing to say what the book is not about: New Orleans. It is, he explained, “the first thing I’ve been able to write, really, since Hurricane Katrina, that was not mainly focused on New Orleans.”
Much of his earlier work has centered on the troubled city, including “City of Refuge” and “Why New Orleans Matters.” “Treme” is also set in New Orleans.
“Why New Orleans Matters,” he said, was written in the five weeks following Katrina, a response to those who questioned whether the city should be rebuilt.
Piazza’s answer: Yes.
“It should be – not just should be – had to be rebuilt, in the sense that you have to take care of your parents if they’re sick, or a loved one, it’s a responsibility on every level,” he said.
In some ways, the city’s struggle has made him appreciate it more, he said.
“I always loved New Orleans, but to see this city get up, essentially out of a coma, a near-death experience, and rebuild itself, and rebuild its culture, to see people come back and put their lives back together because they love this place, to see people sacrifice to be here – it gives a sense of almost awe,” he said.
Piazza studied at Williams College before receiving his Master of Fine Arts at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop.
More information on Piazza is available at tompiazza.com.