Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Festival of Words turns 5 this week, brings in great poets, authors to South Louisiana

            Last week’s Louisiana Book Festival was a great success in Baton Rouge, with throngs of people coming out to enjoy more than 120 authors speak on the grounds of the State Capitol, State Library and State Museum.
            Former Advocate Travel Editor Cynthia Campbell and I discuss traveling through Louisiana at the Louisiana Welcome Center, and we both had a ball gushing about this unique and fascinating state. Campbell is author of “An Explorer’s Guide: Louisiana” and I discuss traveling through Cajun Country since my book focuses on this side of the Atchafalaya.
            As always the weather was gorgeous.
            If you missed the state’s literary festival, beginning Thursday and culminating Saturday, Nov. 8-10, is the fifth annual Festival of Words literary festival. The event features author readings, public readings, community and school creative writing workshops, drive-by poetry in the streets and more in Grand Coteau, Sunset, Arnaudville and surrounding communities.
            The event celebrates the written and spoken word and includes well-known authors such as Jarvis DeBerry, Kelly Harris, Randall Kenan, Patrice Melnick, Bonny McDonald, Chancellier “Xero” Skidmore and Louisiana Poet Laureate Julie Kane.
            Authors will lead community poetry and fiction writing workshops and there will be readings by featured authors and spoken word artists in the community centers of Grand Coteau and Sunset. Readings are free, but donations welcome.
             On Saturday, there will be Drive-by Poetry, live poetry performances from both youth and adults, in area cafes and gift shops of Grand Coteau. There will also be original performances on the outdoor Community Stage.
            Two events spotlight Creole history of the area. At 11 a.m. Saturday, Gwen Miller will offer a tour of St. Peter Claver School which educated blacks in the area from 1944 until 1977.  The roots of the school go back to 1875 when the Religious of the Sacred Heart founded a school for blacks.  The tour will also include a look at St. Charles Chapel, which served the community as Christ the King Church from 1942 until 1971. The tour offers an opportunity to learn about two institutions which served as the center of education and faith for the majority of the Grand Coteau community during segregation.
            At 1:30 p.m., there will be an oral history session inside St. Charles Chapel in which Grand Coteau residents share stories that revolved around Christ the King Church. All are invited to participate.
            In addition to the events, there will be several authors signing books along the streets of Grand Coteau, courtesy of the Writers’ Guild of Acadiana. They are: John Morella, Paul Records, Dani Kaz, Nancy Colby, Claire L. Martin, Rosemary Smith, John Mayeux, Scott Chopplin, John Lafleur, Jessica Bertrand and Margaret Simon.
            For a complete schedule, visit festivalofwords.org.

Acadiana Wordlab
            Acadiana Wordlab is a new literary drafting workshop at 2 p.m. Saturdays at Cité des Arts in Lafayette. It’s free and open to the public, although a donation to that week’s presenter is always welcome. Because Acadiana Wordlab is a drafting workshop, rather than a critique workshop, each week a guest presenter offers a work of art (literary or otherwise), a discussion of art or a lecture on craft. Attendees then write for 20 minutes or so, then share with the group. If there’s time left over, the presenter will present a second prompt, followed by another round of writing, then reading. This week’s presenter is Kelly Clayton, Nov. 10. Upcoming presenters include Alex Johnson, Nov. 17; Emily Thibodeaux, Dec. 1, Patrice Melnick, Dec. 8 and Lester E. Tisdale IV, Dec. 15.

Dupré sale
            The Friends of Dupré Library Annual Book Sale will be Thursday through Saturday, Nov. 8-10, on the first floor of the Edith Garland Dupré Library, 400 E. St. Mary Blvd. on the UL campus. Hardcover books will be sold for $1 and paperbacks 50 cents. The sale also includes LPs and other recordings, priced at $1 for singles and $2 for sets. The book sale will be 8 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. Thursday and Friday and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. Friends of the Library and UL faculty and staff are invited to a preview from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 7. For more information, call (337) 482-6677.

Book events
            The 1718 Society, a student-run literary organization made up of Tulane, Loyola and UNO students, presents reading by Carolyn Hembree at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Columns Hotel on St. Charles Avenue in New Orleans. Open to the public.
            Margaret Media launches their latest title, “Louisiana Film History: A Comprehensive Overview Beginning 1896” by Ed and Susan Poole at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Garden District Book Shop in New Orleans. The Pooles of Gretna have collected and researched film accessories for 30 years and operate a massive movie poster database online. The Pooles will be signing the book and offering classic New Orleans movie posters for sale.
            The book launch of Dave Brinks’ “The Secret Brain” will be 8 p.m. Thursday at the Gold Mine Saloon in New Orleans. The evening includes music, Native American rhythms, poetry and dance. New Orleans poet Brinks will be joined by special guests Rockin’ Dopsie, Gaynielle Neville, Rev. Goat Carson, Katarina Boudreaux and Matthew Shilling. For more information, visit Black Widow Press, www.blackwidowpress.com. 
            The Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities celebrates the publication of “A Unique Slant of Light: The Bicentennial History of Art in Louisiana” with a 6 p.m. reception Thursday at the Meadows Museum at Centenary College in Shreveport. The event is free and open to the public.
            Michael Allen Zell, Carolyn Hembree, Ben Kopel, Brad Richard, Anne Marie Rooney and Geoff Wyss will read at 7 p.m. Friday at McKeown’s Books in New Orleans.
            Heather Graham is the keynote speaker with emcee F. Paul Wilson at the annual Fall in Love with Romance Luncheon at 11 a.m. Saturday at Juban’s Creole Restaurant in Baton Rouge. For more information, visit http://heartla.com/.

Cheré Coen is the author of “Exploring Cajun Country: A Historic Guide to Acadiana” and co-author of “Magic’s in the Bag: Creating Spellbinding Gris Gris Bags and Sachets.” She teaches writing at UL-Lafayette’s Continuing Education. Write her at chere@louisianabooknews.com or visit the Louisiana Book News Facebook page.