Monday, November 12, 2012

Great literary events happening now!

    There’s so much going on in the literary world these days — can I get an Amen? — that I’m going to devote my column this week just to events.
    Clare L. Martin of Lafayette writes about love, dreams and Louisiana in her debut collection of poetry, “Eating the Heart First” by Press 53 as a Tom Lombardo Selection.
    Former Louisiana Poet Laureate Darrell Bourque says of Martin’s poems: “Gradually the poems reveal richly textured revelations of a heart tied to a human experience in that ‘dream we cannot know completely.’ And, while we may not ever know the dream completely, Ms. Martin hands us a guidebook to dreams and to the art that uses dream and dreaming as the scaffolding from which to make something beautiful, and useful, and mysterious all at the same time.”
    Martin’s poetry has appeared in Avatar Review, Blue Fifth Review, Melusine, Poets and Artists and Louisiana Literature, among others. She has been nominated for numerous awards and her work has been anthologized in several publications.
    Martin will be reading her poetry at 4 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 18, as part of the Sundays@4 series at the Baton Rouge Gallery in Baton Rouge.
    I met Martha Holoubek Fitgerald at the recent Louisiana Book Festival and was impressed with her dedication to her parents, two senior medical students who corresponded for two years before their marriage. Fitzgerald researched not only the 800 letters but background medical sources, archives and historical records for her book honoring her parents, titled “The Courtship of Two Doctors: A 1930s Love Story of Letters, Hope & Healing.”
    She will be discussing and signing the book at 6 p.m. Monday, Nov. 12, at Octavia Books in New Orleans. Proceeds from book sales benefit LSU School of Medicine in Shreveport, which her father co-founded, a local marriage ministry, and other causes she shares with her parents.
    Fitzgerald owns Martha Fitzgerald Consulting and Little Dove Press. She edited and published her father’s 2004 novel “Letters to Luke,” which won the Writers Digest Award for inspirational literature and the Independent Publisher Award for religious fiction. Fitzgerald also writes a blog, “Catholics & Bible Study: Sharing Our Journey Through The Wilderness.” She serves on the board of Shreveport’s LSU Health Sciences Center Foundation.
    New Orleans poet Carolyn Hembree discusses her first book “Skinny,” the publisher Kore Press and resources for women writers at 12:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 15, at the Women’s Center Coffee Talk Series at UNO in New Orleans. The title character of Skinny leaves the South and a beloved, dying matriarch for New York City, and through an expansive dramatis personae, the poems offer polyphonic responses to harrowing encounters.
    Hembree’s poems have appeared in Colorado Review, DIAGRAM, Gulf Coast, Indiana Review, jubilat, and Witness, among other journals and anthologies. Her poetry has received three Pushcart Prize nominations, a PEN Writers Grant, a Southern Arts Federation Grant and a Louisiana Division of the Arts Fellowship Award in Literature. Hembree’s second manuscript, “Rigging a Chevy into a Time Machine & Other Ways to Escape a Plague,” was a finalist for the 2012 Tupelo Press First/Second Book Award. She teaches at UNO.
    Coffee Talk Lecture Series is sponsored by UNO’s Women’s Center and Women’s and Gender Studies Program. Bring a lunch; drinks and snacks will be on hand. All events are free and open to the public.
    Suzanne Johnson, author of a new urban fantasy series, will be reading from and signing her latest book, “River Road,” at 6 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 15, at Maple Street Book Shop’s Bayou St. John location in New Orleans. Suzanne, a longtime New Orleans resident now living in Auburn, Ala., is a veteran journalist with more than 50 national awards in writing and editing nonfiction. “River Road” is the follow up to her first book in the series, “Royal Street.” 
    In “River Road,” new species have moved into Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina, destroying the borders between worlds. It falls to wizard sentinel Drusilla Jaco and her partner, Alex Warin, to keep the preternaturals peaceful and the humans unaware. But a war is brewing between two clans of Cajun merpeople in Plaquemines Parish, and down in the swamp, DJ learns, there’s more stirring than angry mermen and the threat of a were-gator.
    David Spielman and Fred Lyon have compiled “When Not Performing: New Orleans Musicians,” a beautiful book that showcases the city’s musicians in their off time. It’s a comprehensive mix of talent, including “a musician unnamed” the authors caught playing on top of the levee. The authors will discuss and sign copies of the book at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 13, at Garden District Book Shop in New Orleans.
    Also at Garden District Book Shop is Deb Shriver signing copies of “In the Spirit of New Orleans” at 1 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 17, an insider’s view of the Crescent City.
    Michael Allen Zell will sign copies of his “Errata” at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 13, at Barrister’s Gallery in New Orleans and at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 14, at Krewe Du Brew, the latter a reading/discussion series sponsored by New Orleans Lyceum. Both event will be held in New Orleans.
    Judyth Vary Baker, the former lover of Lee Harvey Oswald, and Ed Haslam will discuss Oswald and his role in the assassination of Pres. John Kennedy at 6 p.m. Friday, Nov. 16, on the second floor of Barnes and Noble at LSU, corner of Highland and Raphael Semmes Drive in Baton Rouge. Baker is the author of the memoir “Me & Lee: How I Came to Know, Love and Lose Lee Harvey Oswald.” Haslam is the author of “Dr. Mary’s Monkey,” which discusses Oswald’s final days in New Orleans.  
    The Black Widow Salon presents author Yuri Herrera at 7:15 p.m. Monday, Nov. 12, upstairs at Crescent City Books in New Orleans.

    The Jeanerette Museum presents UL-Lafayette history professor and author Michael Martin speaking Wednesday, Nov. 14, on the New Orleans Saints and the NFL with a brief history of the organizations. For information, call (337) 276-4408 or visit

    Spanish historian José Manuel de Molina Bautista will speak on the founding of New Iberia at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 15, at the South Regional Library in Lafayette. “The Malagueños in Louisiana” highlights the immigrant experience of 16 families who traveled from Malaga, Spain, to settle in “Luisiana” under the governorship of fellow Malagueño Bernardo de Gálvez. The lecture is free and sponsored by the Center for Louisiana Studies. For more information, call (337) 482-6027 or visit
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