Monday, February 11, 2013

New books look at perique tobacco, longleaf pines

             For eight years Charles Martin has been documenting the centuries-old tradition of growing perique tobacco. The labor-intensive process of growing the unique tobacco in Louisiana dates back to the early 19th century, the brainchild of Acadian farmer Pierre “Perique” Chenet who learned the process from Native Americans and began growing this form of tobacco on the east bank of St. James Parish. 
              Martin’s documentation was on view as an exhibit at the Historic New Orleans Collection but has been collected in a companion catalogue that’s now on sale. “Perique: Photographs by Charles Martin” contains his sharp, detailed black and white photos and includes essays by Mary Ann Sternberg and John H. Lawrence. The book is available at The Shop at the Historic New Orleans Collection at 410 Chartres St. in New Orleans or by visiting
            Another beautiful book to relish, which honors one of the South’s greatest resources, is “Longleaf, Far as the Eye Can See: A New Vision of North America’s Richest Forest” by Bill Finch, Beth Maynor Young, Rhett Johnston and John C. Hall with a foreword by E.O. Wilson. 
        The book focuses on the old-growth forests of longleaf pines, which once covered 92 million acres from Texas to Maryland and down into Florida before loggers discovered them. Louisiana residents can enjoy these ancient trees in spots such as the Northshore of Lake Pontchartrain but only 3 million acres are left throughout the South. However, a resurgence has the grand ole trees making a comeback.
             “Scientific knowledge of the longleaf savanna is deepening, and public appreciation of it is rising,” Wilson writes in the foreword. “Substantial efforts to save and restore the ecosystem to some of its former glory are under way.”
            The authors combine history, biology and photographs to showcase the magnificent longleaf pine and the ecosystems the trees promote. Finch is senior fellow at the Ocean Foundation and executive director of the Mobile Botanical Gardens. Young is a conversation photographer and Johnson is cofounder and president of the Longleaf Alliance. Hall is curator of the Black Belt Museum at the University of West Alabama. 
            The book is published by the University of North Carolina Press.

Southern Review
            The winter edition of “The Southern Review,” published four times a year on the campus of LSU, includes new work by 20 poets —including Pulitzer Prize-winner Philip Schultz — fiction, essays and light drawings of horses by artist Alison Rossiter. “The Southern Review” is available in bookstores and online at
Library events
            Three best-selling romance authors will discuss their latest joint effort, “The Lady Most Willing…,” a novel in three parts, at 2 p.m. Saturday at the South Regional Branch Library. Set in the fairy-tale realm of Regency Scotland, authors Julia Quinn, Eloisa James and Connie Brockway will discuss their book, plus talk about the romance genre in an event titled “Stories With Heart: A Valentine’s Day Romance Author Panel Discussion.” Local author Deborah LeBlanc will moderate the talk, and refreshments will be provided. A book sale and signing will follow the presentation.
            “Gran Torino,” starring Clint Eastwood, will be shown at 6 p.m. Thursday at the South Regional Library Auditorium. The film is rated R.
            Artist Michael Parrish will show adults how to make a Mardi Gras mosaic using Mardi Gras beads and glitter at 10 a.m. Saturday at the South Regional Library. To preregister, call 981-1028.
            Also on Saturday is the Lego Club meeting for ages 7 and up, beginning at 2 p.m. at the North Regional Library. To register, call 896-6323.
            Saxophonist Shenole Latimer will perform at 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 17, at the South Regional Library. He will also offer a children’s performance about jazz at 4 p.m. Monday, Feb. 18, at South Regional.
            And there’s more…visit

Short Story Contest
            CountryRoads magazine in Baton Rouge is hosting its 12th annual Short Story Contest. Winning entries of the short story competition and the Readers’ Choice Award will be published in the June edition of the magazine. Writers of Louisiana
and Mississippi are now invited to submit
works of fiction or haiku for cash prizes
and a chance at publication. Submission deadline is
 Friday, March 15.

Book events
            Voices in Winter: Readings by Camille Martin and Matthew Hofferek, the winter installment of the Voices Seasonal Reading Series, will begin at 7 p.m. Saturday at Carpe Diem Gelato & Espresso Bar, 812 Jefferson St. The event is open to the public.            
            A poetry reading by Diane Moore and Brad Richard, followed by an open mic of crazy love poems, begins at 7 p.m. Thursday at Casa Azul Gifts in Grand Coteau. The event is sponsored by The Festival of Words Cultural Arts Collective.

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