Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Domingue follows up 'Mercy' debut with unique series set in fantastical world

            Ronlyn Domingue offered the world a unique voice and brilliant storytelling with her debut novel, “The Mercy of Thin Air,” set in New Orleans and narrated by a female ghost recalling her lost love. The book received critical acclaim and has since been translated into 10 languages.
             Domingue follows up this success with “The Mapmaker’s War,” another bold and innovative tale of a woman fighting for her place, told by second-person narrative. The story takes place in an ancient kingdom where a young woman, Aoife, strives to become a mapmaker through earning favors with the king. She also falls in love with his son, Wyl, and heads off to chart unfamiliar lands.
            Aoife discovers people who live in peace who own a mythic treasure. When she tries to warm these people that her kingdom may war with them, she is exiled and must leave her family behind, moving into uncharted territory.
            Louisiana poet Ava Leavell Haymon said of the book, “The Mapmaker's War evokes not mere fantasy, but the real magic I found as a child, reading by flashlight under a blanket. As then, the story takes me by the hand to exotic lands and noble people. As it proceeds, I’m reminded of myself as a teen-age girl, chafing under the restrictions of an established order. Further on, I’m lead into adulthood. The story keeps me under its spell, but it fills with adult contradictions, with experiences of betrayal and regret, with sex and self-knowledge, with the reality of evil, and all the while, yes, the same old magic. But the magic has matured, now, redeemed by love and wisdom.”
            Domingue will sign copies of “The Mapmaker’s War” at 5:30 p.m.
Thursday at the Garden District Book Shop in New Orleans and at 2 p.m. Saturday at Barnes & Noble in Lafayette. She’ll be returning to Lafayette for a “Meet & Greet the Author” from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, March 23, at The Cottage Shoppe of Acadiana, 800 E. Broussard Road.
            Don’t miss this amazing new voice in literature!

Endowment awards announced
            Announcements were made for the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities awards, which will be presented April 6 at Houmas House.
            Dr. William Pederson, American Studies Endowed Chair in Liberal Arts at LSU-Shreveport and director of the International Lincoln Center, will receive the 2013 Humanist of the Year. Pederson is recognized for his contributions to the state as a scholar, educator and author.
            The Lifetime Contribution to the Humanities goes to Dr. Alfred Lemmon of the Historic New Orleans Collection. A native of Lafayette, Lemmon has provided research and scholarship in more than 30 years at the Collection and has served as director of the Collection’s Williams Research Center since 2000.
            The Chair’s Award for Institutional Support goes to the Shell Oil Company and Foundation for its Prime Time Family Reading Time program. Public Humanities Programming award goes to Elaine Black and the Georgia Public Library Service for its family literacy programming and Patrice Melnick of Grand Coteau for her work developing the Festival of Words in St. Landry Parish, an annual four-day celebration of literary arts that includes public readings of literature, writing workshops, author visits to schools, and creative writing contests. In addition, Melnick hosts an ongoing reading series at her Casa Azul gift shop promoting the work of young and established writers, and hosted a recent LEH-funded appearance by Louisiana Poet Laureate Julie Kane.  
            Individual Achievement in the Humanities went to Greg Lambousy, director of collections for the Louisiana State Museum.  
            The 2013 Humanities Books of the Year went to “The Accidental City: Improvising New Orleans” by Lawrence N. Powell, published by Harvard University Press, and “ Ernie K-Doe: R&B Emperor of New Orleans” by Ben Sandmel, published by the Historic New Orleans Collection.
            The Humanities Documentary Film of the Year went to “T-Galop: A Louisiana Horse Story,” by Connie Castille, awarded the Louisiana Feature Film Prize at the 2012 New Orleans Film Festival.
            The Michael P/ Smith Memorial Award for Documentary Photography went to husband and wife team Keith Calhoun and Chandra McCormick of New Orleans.
            The 2013 Humanities Teacher of the Year was awarded to Vicki Bell of Queensborough Elementary in Shreveport, a pilot site for PRIME TIME Full Circle.

Authors announced for Louisiana literary festivals
            Authors have been announced for two upcoming conferences.
            Tim O’Brien, the author of “The Things They Carried,” a story inspired by his experience in the Vietnam War, will be the keynote speaker of the 10th annual Jambalaya Writers’ Conference April 13 in Houma. This book has been recognized by The Big Read, a National Endowment for the Art program designed to restore reading to the center of American culture. Other presenters include novelists Jennifer Blake (aka Patricia Maxwell), Hank Phillippi Ryan and Heather Graham; non-fiction authors Carolyn Long and Shirley Laska; children’s authors Robert San Souci and Rose Anne St. Romain; poets Ava Leavell Haymon, Jay Udall and William Bradford Clark. Literary agents Page Wheeler and Rachel Eckstrom and editors Rose Hilliard, Katherine DePalma and Monique Patterson. For more information, visit http://mytpl.org/jwc/.
            The Festival of Words announced three authors for the Festival of Words, to be Nov. 7-9 in Grand Coteau. They are Darrell Bourque, Genaro Kỳ Lý Smith and Naomi Shihab Nye.  
Darrell Bourque
Genaro Kỳ Lý Smith
             Bourque's books include “Plainsongs,” “The Doors between Us,” “Burnt Water Suite,” “The Blue Boat,” “Call and Response: Conversations in Verse” with Jack B. Bedell, “In Ordinary Light, New and Selected Poems” and a special edition chapbook, “Holding the Notes.” He served as Louisiana Poet Laureate during 2007-2008 and from 2009 to 2011.
            Smith of  Vietnam has been published in many journals, and earned first place in the Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Fellowship competition. 
            Nye describes herself as a “wandering poet, after having spent 37 years traveling the country and the world to lead writing workshops. Nye is the author and/or editor of more than 30 volumes and has been a Lannan Fellow, a Guggenheim Fellow and a Witter Bynner Fellow (Library of Congress). She has been featured on two PBS poetry specials: “The Language of Life with Bill Moyers” and “The United States of Poetry.”  
Naomi Shihab Nye
             The Festival features literary readings, creative writing workshops in the public schools and community centers, a community stage for open mic and drive-by poetry in the gift shops and cafes. For more information, visit festivalofwords.org. 

Lafayette Library book sale
            The Friends of the Lafayette Parish Library will hold its Friends’ Semi-Annual Book Sale Wednesday through Saturday at the Heymann Convention Center Ballroom, 1373 S. College Road in Lafayette. 
             The preview night for Friends members (memberships may be purchased at the door for a nominal fee) will be 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday, following by the sale open to the public on the following days: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday and Friday and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday.            
            Books are sold for $1 an inch hardback and 50 cents an inch paperback. There will also be DVDs CDs, audiobooks and vinyl for sale.
            For more information or to become Friends of the Library member, call the Library at 261-5781 or the Friends at 501-9209.
Journals for seniors
            The Paperblanks Company of Ontario, Canada, has donated 50 writing journals for distribution to senior citizens of Grand Coteau, available at Casa Azul Gifts, 232 Martin Luther King Drive. The donation is intended to encourage town elders to write their personal or family stories.
            The journal distribution is part of a larger project called "Grand Coteau Voices: the Good, the Bad and the Complicated," a monthly oral history project that is recorded and archived in UL’s Archives for Cajun and Creole Folklore.
            Grand Coteau natives, whether living in town or away, may pick up a free journal during regular business hours at Casa Azul Gifts. Paperblanks are also available for sale at Barnes and Noble in Lafayette and other stores that carry quality stationary products.

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.