Fun Fables for Kids is an illustrated collection of short tales. Told in the tradition of Aesop, these family-friendly stories follow the adventures of animal characters faced with important life lessons.
Brown Bunny Finds a Home follows the adventures of a beloved stuffed animal as he sets out to explore the world, looking for somewhere where he can belong.
Grief is Hiding in this Music is the selected poetry of Dalt Wonk. The unassuming, direct, and enjoyable poems in this collection reflect Dalt Wonk’s life in the French Quarter, where he has lived for over 40 years.
The collection begins with a section entitled “Exile,” which includes poems inspired by New Orleans and Paris (where Wonk also lived for a decade). Another section entitled “Nocturnes” features poems originally printed alongside the photo-engravings of renowned photographer Josephine Sacabo. And as lagniappe (the New Orleans word meaning “something extra”), the final section features a new translation of the late, great Vicente Huidobro’s surrealist love poem Altazor, Canto II.
“Thank goodness for Dalt Wonk and his watchful eye. His collection of poems suggests an interior life full of meaning and wonderment and desire. He points us all to the poetry within.” — Gwen Thompkins (Journalist and Host of public radio’s Music Inside Out)
2020 Eric Hoffer Award Finalist
These collages are assembled from images taken from “La Nature”, a 19th century French magazine. Simon Blake meticulously dissects the illustrations from this magazine with carbon scissors and surgical scalpels. He then pastes these pieces together to form new, original, imaginative pictures.
“Word and image combine seamlessly to bring to life a fantastic world. An alluring journey. A beautiful sense of bewilderment.”
— David Gordon Green
A piano bar on lower Bourbon Street. The kind of place tourists peek into but then avoid. Brenda Saenz, an elderly woman, holds court at the piano. She is abundantly made up and carries herself with the hauteur of a White Russian exile. In brief chapters, we meet Brenda’s staff and customers. The cleaning lady – a once famous rhythm and blues star. The waitress – a rebellious runaway from the Northeast. A carriage driver, who tries to help promote the bar with tourists. But it is Brenda’s own secret tragedy that this group must deal with or flee from – in the final chapter that gives the book its name.
“Dalt Wonk captures the eccentric heart of New Orleans. Spiritual Gifts: French Quarter Short Stories is peopled with the quirky, the disillusioned, the good-hearted who are the fabric of our world. Wonk has an unfailing ear for their speech, a presence at their most combustible moments and an extraordinary eye for the sultry, weathered city that shapes their lives. He brilliantly weaves each story into an unforgettable human tapestry.” – Jim Amoss (Former Editor, The Times Picayune – Former member of the Pulitzer Prize board)
Play by Dalt Wonk, Music by Jody Dickerson & Wonk, 2000
Splendour Harmonies Returning follows a young Rhythm & Blues singing group as they try to get their big break. At the center of the group (and of the story) are Lester and Claire. He’s a mechanic and she works in a Beauty Shop. They’re in love, but can’t seem to stay on an even keel.
The show is a quirky comedy — interspersed with songs, as the group rehearses and performs.
Finally, the group — THE SPLENDOUR HARMONIES — gets to play for a high-class society Gala. This could launch them! After years of struggle, it’s moment of truth. Or, so it seems to Lester. Can he survive the failure of his dreams?
For its premiere production, the show received enthusiastic reviews. “One of the most entertaining plays here in some time” said the States-Item critic — noting Wonk’s “snappy dialogue and wit”.
By the second week-end, people had to be turned away at the door.
by Dalt Wonk, 2002
Spiritual Gifts offers a startling and unconventional look at life in the French Quarter by a writer who has been a long-time resident. It’s set in a piano bar on lower Bourbon Street — the kind of place tourists peek into, but then avoid.
Brenda Saenz holds court there at her piano. She is a wry pompous eccentric, who carries herself with the hauteur of a White Russian exile.
And who works at the bar? A once-famous Black chanteuse is the cleaning woman. A caustic, rootless young New Yorker is the waitress. Lost souls, the dregs of society — and yet, your feelings about them change, once you get to know them.
Gradually, we realize that Brenda is desperately trying to escape from heart break — the suicide of her only child, the son she cherished and devoted her life to.
Spiritual Gifts had a successful run at le Chat Noir Cabaret Theater.
Play by Dalt Wonk, Music by Charles Neville, 2001
Shangri-La is based on a real nightclub, the Dew Drop Inn. The Dew Drop was the happening place for Black musicians in the segregated New Orleans of the 1950’s and before.
Charles Neville, saxophone player for the famous Neville Brothers Band, got his start there. The New Orleans Jazz Fest gave Charles a grant to celebrate the place. Neville asked Dalt Wonk to write the script.
Shangri-La, a mythical version of the Dew Drop, premiered at the Contemporary Arts Center and played for a year in music clubs around town — Tipitina’s, Mason’s Las Vegas Strip and the Blues Saloon among others.
Fern, a young singer, is set to make her debut as a soloist — but her former partner, who’s been in jail, arrives at the club demanding that they restart the duo (in which he stars, of course). Through many ups and downs, — involving colorful characters like Hot Mama and Bug Juice — Fern struggles to free herself and launch her own career. There is much laughter and irresistible Rhythm & Blues.
Play by Dalt Wonk, Music by Alvin Batiste, 2003
A Bitter Glory is a musical drama set in 1790 in Colonial Louisiana. A French Marquis purchases a new African slave — whom, he learns, was the head-man of a warrior tribe. The French aristocrat is intrigued by the African aristocrat and favors him over the other slaves.
He even gives him the cabin of Bobó, a trusted house-servant, who has worked for the Marquis in the Plantation House all his life.
Eventually, the Marquis grows competitive with the African. Which of the two is more noble, more aristocratic? A crisis is inevitable.
It is house-servant Bobó, however, and his estranged wife who become the focus of our attention — as they struggle to learn the fate of their daughter who was sold away.
Selfish vanity drives the aristocrats. The “little common people” don’t concern them.
In the end, Bobó must give up his illusion of belonging. And learn the harsh truth that he is dispensable.
New Orleans Jazz composer Alvin Batiste wrote the music for the drama — which was presented in concert form at the Contemporary Arts Center and aired on WWOZ radio.
by Dalt Wonk, 2006
Dangerous Gardenias is a cabaret comedy. It premiered at the Contemporary Arts Center, New Orleans, then transferred to Le Chat Noir Cabaret for a sold-out, twice-extended run.
The story follows Richard, a married man, who has stolen a suitcase of cash from his criminal brother, so he can run off with Jane, the girl he’s fallen madly in love with. She’s a pretentious bubble-head. But he’s blinded by the romance of it all.
The story begins when these enamored fools meet for a tryst at the Cabaret.
Richard: You still come here often, don’t you?
Jane: I come, sometimes, to try and remember.
Jane: I don’t remember.
Richard: Memories can be so painful, when they bring back the past.
Jane: And one remembers so little else, except the past, really.
Unfortunately, Richard’s wife shows up, looking for her spouse. His brother shows up, in search of his dough. Worse still, a Mob hitman shows up!
Dangerous Gardenias lives up to its name — hilarious, nonsensical, irresistible. Imagine “The Maltese Falcon” starring the Marx Brothers instead of Humphrey Bogart.
by Dalt Wonk, 2008
Rio Seco tells the story of three rich elderly sisters living in a Texas town on the Rio Grande. The eldest and richest of them owns and lives in a motel. This is considered both an eccentricity and a disgrace.
Nonetheless, during one frantic week, all the sisters — plus, a daughter, her fiancé and a priest — end up seeking refuge in the motel.
Inconvenient? Yes, but worse than that — a scandal! In an election year! For Lena, the most imposing and haughty of the sisters (and the central character) is married to a judge, who is running for re-election. And he cannot afford a scandal!
The comedy, like the town it’s set in, has a spicy south-of-the-border flavor, but no Spanish is necessary to follow the shenanigans.
Rio Seco was produced to critical acclaim at the renowned American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco, as well as at le Chat Noir in New Orleans.
Nocturnes is an elegant art book that evokes the feeling of “moments of release” — twilight, summer rain, and the physical expression of love. Nine short poems are accompanied by a series of delicate images that bring these feelings to life.
The poems — unrhymed sonnets — are printed on translucent vellum, so that an image hovers behind the words until the page is turned.
The design of the book itself contributes to the mood of evanescence and refuge. Two artists responding to the night.
A costume is a sort of visual riddle — especially on Mardi Gras, when the imagination runs wild. “What are you supposed to be?” one asks the mysterious apparition, walking toward you in the street.
Inspired by costume designs of the golden age of Mardi Gras, The Riddles of Existence is a kind of modern reinvention of Tarot Cards. But these cards are not for predicting the future — they are for having fun now!
The Riddles of Existence are an oversized deck of cards, each with a figure wearing a costume. Beneath the illustration, there is a riddle in verse. The costume is the answer, or a hint at the answer of the riddle.
It’s a game any number can play. You can have fun alone or, even better, with friends.
Turn up a card. Read the riddle. Contemplate the costume. Who can guess the answer?
The Laughing Lady is a fantasy adventure for children age 6-12 years old.
Florence lives in the French Quarter. Her dearest friend is her pet — a wise-cracking bird named Signor Cockatoo. The dreadful Laughing Lady kidnaps Signor Cockatoo and takes him into the spooky Fun House where she lives. Why? Does it have something to do with Boss Bones, the skeleton she’s going to marry?
Florence follows the Laughing Lady into the Fun House. Wild, scary, but always fun! Can Florence save her pet?
The Laughing Lady is brimming with full-color illustrations and features original music written and recorded in New Orleans.
French Quarter Fables sold like hot cakes. So, there was nothing to do, but issue a second volume.
French Quarter Fables Volume II is a totally new collection of delightful tales! It doesn’t matter which volume you start with. Once you have one, you’ll want the other. They’re habit-forming!