Monday, March 11, 2013

Louisiana Poet Laureate finalists named

            Three finalists for Louisiana Poet Laureate have been announced, paving the way for Gov. Jindal to choose the winner. 
              They are Jack Bedell (right), professor of the Humanities at Southeastern and author of seven books; Ava Leavell Haymon (left below), a nationally recognized poet and teacher who organizes poetry workshops and seminars throughout the state; and Laura Mullen, the McElveen Professor of English at LSU. 
             Once the nominee is approved by the governor, the new poet laureate will replace poet Julie Kane, a professor of English at Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, who has served in that position since 2011. Her term ends May 21. Kane succeeded Darrell Bourque of Sunset, who served as the State Poet Laureate from 2008 to 2010. Brenda Marie Osbey was Louisiana's first peer-selected poet laureate and served from 2005 to 2007.

Short story winner
            The winner in the Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival’s Annual Fiction Contest is Ben Philippe with his “Momentum.” His story will be published in Louisiana Literature magazine.
            Judge Michael Cunningham says of the winner: “‘Momentum’ incorporates significant human issues without sacrificing the nuances of character. And there’s no denying the effortless potency of its central idea — the child sabotaging his mother’s marriage to his father, because the child alone understands that he and his mother won’t survive if the father stays on board.”
            The top eight finalists are Charlene Allen, “Carry Me Home;”
Cara Bayles, “Ostrita;”
Rachel Borup, “Crash;”
Heather Dundas, “House Menu;”
Jennifer Jacobson, “Trouble and Bones;”
Julie Justicz, “Conch Pearl;”
David Parr, “How to Survive Overwhelming Loss and Loneliness in 5 Easy Steps;”
and Maegan Poland, “Sustainable.”

Lunchtime Lagniappe
            Programs for March have been announced for Lunchtime Lagniappe, a weekly series of lectures that explore the culture and history of Louisiana at the Capitol Park Museum in downtown Baton Rouge.
            They are:
            March 13: “Louisiana’s Contributions to Advancements in Medicine” by curator Polly Rolman-Smith;
            March 20; “Landmarks and Monuments of Baton Rouge” by Dr. Hilda Krousel; and
            March 27 “The Fresh Table: Cooking in Louisiana All Year Round” with cook, blogger and The Advocate food columnist Helana Brigman.
            All programs begin at noon and are free and open to public. Attendees are encouraged to bring their own lunch. The Louisiana State Museum Friends will have refreshments available for a small donation.

Talent Night
            Margaret Media, a publisher out of Donaldsonville, is now sponsoring River Road Talent Night from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesdays at Donaldsonville’s Cypress Café. The inaugural event was Feb. 20 and attracted about 25 people with six performers, including artist Alvin Batiste who created the illustration for the event’s poster.  
             River Road Talent Night is open to anyone — writers, musicians, dancers, singers, actors, comedians and visual artists. No reservations required. Two dollars admission gets participants a beverage and a serving of bread pudding. For information, call (225) 323-4559. 
            Margaret Media publishes books on Creoles, music, women’s history, movies set in New Orleans, architecture, Mississippi River lore and fiction by local authors. For information on the publisher, visit
            The deadline looms for Country Roads magazine’s 12th annual
Short Stories issue, to be published
in June and featuring the winners of its
annual Short Story Contest and
Readers’ Choice Award. But they can’t do it without you! Writers of Louisiana
and Mississippi are invited to submit
works of fiction or haiku for cash prizes
and a chance at publication by Friday, March 15. For details, visit
            Submissions are now being accepted for the Acadiana Writing Project’s Writes of Spring contest. Students in grades K–12 are invited to submit an original piece of short fiction, non-fiction, drama (high school only) or poetry in English or French, along with a completed entry form to any Lafayette Public Library branch by Friday, March 22. First-, second- and third-place winners will be selected. The awards ceremony for high school winners will begin at 6:30 p.m. April 30 at the South Regional Library and include a poetry reading by local poet Kelly Clayton. Winning authors will be notified by phone. For more information, visit

Book events
            A reading by Michael Lee with Shome Dasgupta with the UL-Lafayette Creative Writing Program begins at 3:30 p.m. Saturday, March 16, at the Ernest Gaines Center of the Dupre Library on the UL-Lafayette campus.
            Ronlyn Domingue will sign copies of her latest novel, “The Mapmaker’s War,” at 6 p.m. Wednesday, March 13, at the Ouachita Parish Public Library in Monroe and at 4 p.m. Sunday, March 17, at Baton Rouge Gallery in Baton Rouge.

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