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Newcomer to Denver seeks curators among you for Nola Studiola: A blog. Interviews, Artistic process, and the Occasional Recipe


Hi, I’m Alison Barker. I moved here from southern Louisiana six months ago, where a romantic break-up and a crusty ole case of writer’s block combined forces with a dry job market (check out Baton Rouge’s gender pay disparity, ya’ll) and disillusionment with working in academia to produce in me, well, a certain, shall we say, malaise.

door jams

This sign in a stall of the women’s restroom at the Audubon Plantation outside St. Francisville, Louisiana reminds me that there are lots of ways to get un-stuck when you’re stuck, and the way out ain’t workin.

I always turn to people in my community when I am puzzling over something, and as I gathered the courage to face heartbreak, say goodbye to people who had become my chosen family the last five years, and take my third stab at my first novel, I started a blog, Nola Studiola, in which I interviewed writers and chefs and other artists, like Lidia Yuknavitch, Lisa Brown, Drew Ervin, and Amanda Hesser. I asked them about their artistic process, their juggling acts of life and art-making, and, because good food is the best way to woo me, their favorite food/drink recipes. Then I wrapped up the summer by asking good friends I admire to post about their creative processes.

I holed up  in my friend’s apartment in New Orleans for a couple of months to write, to blog (at the cafe down the street– and scheme a way to a brand new place with lots and lots of space to think: that would be your fine city of Denver.

The blog was like vitamins for my artistic rebirth (Some have called it a “midlife crisis” but I prefer “artistic re-birth.”)


And then I thought, “what if Nola Studiola was run by everyone? What if someone new got to call the shots, design the blog appearance, choose the interviewees, the recipes, the questions with which to tackle that neverending puzzle of how do we get into the headspace to create?

And so it’s Nola Studiola REDUX now, and each month, a different person curates the blog, sets the agenda, decides whether it will be a series of posts by one author or interviews or, hey, a bunch of inspiring pictures. We’ve had John David Harding, who explored gender/queer issues as an MFA grad, Jackie DeRobertis, who explored kicking writer’s block while studying abroad in East Anglia, and currently, pen-named Rose Scholarina, who interviews other anonymous women on the perils of balancing motherhood and academic careers.

Now that I’m in a brand new city, engaged in this brand new (to me) Lighthouse community and artistic home, I hope to find future curators among you readers! (You can feel free to email me at if you are inspired by what you see at, and want to jump-start your blog curating career.)

Next month, April curator and NYC writer Sarah Perry discusses the process and travails of writing her memoir about her mother’s murder in 1994, the search (now complete) for her killer, and the exploration of her mother’s very full life before the tragic crime.


Sarah Perry is’s April curator.

9 comments on “Newcomer to Denver seeks curators among you for Nola Studiola: A blog. Interviews, Artistic process, and the Occasional Recipe

  1. andreadupree
    March 24, 2013

    Welcome to Denver, Alison! We love having you around and are already greedy for your postings. Very cool idea of the guest-curated blog.

  2. fancydrew
    March 25, 2013

    The worst break-ups lead to the best blogs!

    • alison barker
      March 31, 2013

      Mr. FancyDrew, (I know that’s not your real name)
      Yes, I have found that to be true. Way to break it down!

  3. danmanzan
    March 26, 2013

    I LOVE Lidia Yuknavitch! Chronology of Water is the best kind of memoir. Killer, killer sentences. Keep us posted on how goes the search for new blog curators!

    • alison barker
      March 31, 2013

      Ok, I certainly will, Dan…hm. Good idea. I’ll post my new catches. 🙂 Yes, killer sentences abound in that book. Killer. They do stuff. And stuff. And make you want to know how.

  4. megnix
    March 26, 2013

    Which Nola coffee shop were you holed up in? I used to sit at Mojo in the Lower Garden and drink iced coffee all day and get nothing done. Glad you’re here, Alison! It’s a good place to recover from a life in Louisiana, although your post sure does make me miss it 🙂

  5. alison barker
    March 31, 2013

    Meg, I was more uptown than Mojo. What is around there? I feel like a cafe prowler like me would have surely test driven it, but I’m not recalling! Guess what! My mom is moving there!

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