Monday, April 15, 2013

LSU Press book discusses Civil Rights activism

            It was April 16, 1963, when the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. wrote his Letter from Birmingham Jail, including the line, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” This week marks the 50th anniversary and the city of Birmingham, the Birmingham Library and the Terrebonne Parish Library are hosting events that include the reading of King’s letter, to name a few.         
                In Houma, there will be a brown bag lunch from noon to 1 p.m. in the outdoor atrium of the Main Library. Some books to consider reading include “Why We Can’t Wait” by King (Penguin), which recounts the Birmingham campaign and discusses why 1963 was a crucial year for the Civil Rights Movement.
            A new book available from LSU Press is James P. Marshall’s “Student Activism and Civil Rights in Mississippi,” which tells the complete story of the quest for civil rights in Mississippi. Marshall is a former Civil Rights activist, an independent scholar and former non-resident fellow at the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research at Harvard University.

Turley to speak
            John Turley will speak about the Deepwater Horizon Macondo Well blowout at 6:30 p.m. April 17 at Lafayette’s South Regional Branch Library.
            Turley studied BP’s Macondo blowout to document the drilling of the 3 1/2-mile-deep well and the sequence of events that caused the catastrophe. The presentation will include time for questions.
            Turley is a graduate of the Colorado School of Mines, University of Miami and Harvard Business School. He worked in petroleum engineering for Phillips Petroleum, Fluor Ocean Services, Tenneco Oil Company and as a professor at Marietta College. He was the Gulf Coast drilling manager, U.K. operations manager and manager of worldwide drilling, and VP of engineering and technology at Marathon Oil Company.
            He is also the author of “The Simple Truth: BP’s Macondo Blowout,” a non-fiction, data-driven book that’s presented as a novel.

Book news
            At the Louisiana Historical Association (LHA) meeting on March 22, The Historic New Orleans Collection and the LHA chose Lawrence N. Powell’s “The Accidental City: Improvising New Orleans” as the 2012 winner of the Kemper and Leila Williams Prize. The prize, named for the founders of The Historic New Orleans Collection, is offered annually, recognizing excellence in research and writing on Louisiana history. Powell is emeritus faculty in Tulane University’s history department and former director of the University’s New Orleans Center for the Gulf South. He will receive a cash prize of $1,500 and a plague.
             Musician and author Zachary Richard received the James Williams Rivers Prize in Louisiana Studies, established to honor those who have contributed or rendered outstanding scholarly study, work or teaching about the culture, history, art, architecture, crafts, flora, fauna, music, literature, law, performing arts or geography of Louisiana or its people. The prize is donated in memory of Rivers, a New Orleans architect and graduate of USL, who died in 1991. Past recipients include George Rodrigue, James Lee Burke, Elemore Morgan, Sr. & Jr., Ernest Gaines, Dr. Barry Ancelet, and A. Hays Town. Richard has just released a new album titled “Le Fou” with the accompanying video “Laisse le Vent Souffler” (“Let The Storm Winds Blow”), filmed at McGee’s Landing in the Atchafalaya Basin. 

New releases
            The Historic New Orleans Collection has published a recently discovered and uncensored memoir of a young Frenchman and his 1729 trip to New Orleans, “A Company Man: The Remarkable French-Atlantic Voyage of a Clerk for the Company of the Indies.” Written for an intimate circle of friends, Marc-Antoine Caillot’s story documents major and minor Louisiana events – from the Natchez massacre to the first documented account of Carnival to his own pranks and romantic escapades. The book is being released this week with a special reception and book signing from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday at The Collection, 533 Royal St. in New Orleans.
            In commemoration of the sesquicentennial of the American Civil War, Ezra Warner’s opus, “Generals in Blue and Generals in Gray,” is available for the first time as a hardcover boxed set of both volumes from LSU Press. The books contain biographical sketches and photographs of all 425 Confederate and 583 Union generals.
            Former Louisiana poet laureate Brenda Marie Osbey of New Orleans has published her fifth collection of poetry, titled “History and Other Poems.” The book “moves from present to past and back again to reveal the trauma of hearts and lives broken even as it underscores the heroic endurance, resilience and agency of the enslaved and their descendants.”
            New Orleans poet Brett Evans has released his new book from Trembling Pillow Press titled “I Love This American Way of Life.” Evans’ work has been featured in anthologies The Gertrude Stein Awards in Innovative American Poetry, Another South: Experimental Writing in the South and Poets for Living Waters and in the biography “Ernie K-Doe: the R & B Emperor of New Orleans.”
            Kid Chef Eliana of New Orleans has been taking the world by storm, with her own weekly radio show “Cool Kids Cook” on the Voice America Kids network and appearing on TV and radio programs. Now, the young chef has her own cookbook, with help from Dianne de las Cases, an award-winning author and her mom. “Cool Kids Cook: Louisiana,” published by Pelican Publishing of New Orleans, offers traditional Louisiana dishes that are easy enough for children to make. Each recipe comes with a chef’s note and photos, illustrated by Soleil Lisette. It’s a great cookbook for youth, and it doesn’t scrimp on technique nor talk down to its audience. Kids making these recipes will end up with some fabulous dishes.
            Retired teacher and grandmother Fran Aertker Barbato of Lafayette had friends asking for suggestions of activities to do with their grandkids. She decided to write a book full of activities, organized into topics, that would be both fun and educational. The result is “Grammy Frannie Fun: Do you want to spend time or spend a fortune?,” edited by her daughter Sarah Brooks Barbato. As you may imagine, the innovative book features creative activities where you won’t spend a fortune, but spend hours of fun. “Granny Frannie Fun” is available at and Barnes & Noble online.

            The History Press has several new titles out about Louisiana. Patrick O’Daniel looks at the 1927 Flood and its impact on Memphis and the Mississippi Delta in “When the Levee Breaks: Memphis and the Mississippi Valley Flood of 1927.” Cheryl H. White has written a biography of one of Louisiana’s most interesting figures in “Confederate General Leonidas Polk: Louisiana’ Fighting Bishop.” Polk was an Episcopal bishop deeply committed to the Confederacy. And Edmond Boudreaux Jr. delves into Mississippi Coast tales, from Jean Lafitte to Barq’s root beer in “Legends and Lore of the Mississippi Golden Gulf Coast.”

            The 16th annual Alabama Writers Symposium will be April 25-27 in Monroeville, Ala., home to Harper Lee. Writers include Rick Bragg, Chantel Acevedo, Marlin Barton, Cassandra King, Gay Talese (winner of the 2013 Harper Lee Award for Alabama’s Distinguished Writer), Sue Walker (winner of the 2013 Eugene Current-Garcia Award for Alabama’s Distinguished Literary Scholar) and many more. For information, visit
            The Winston S. Churchill Symposium on May 18 is a partnered program between The National WWII Museum
& The Churchill Society of New Orleans and includes several authors and scholars discussing topics relevant to the life and legacy of Sir Winston S. Churchill. Speakers include Pulitzer Prize finalist Dr. Michael Shelden (“Young Titan: The Making of Winston Churchill”); Dr. Christopher M. Bell (“Churchill & Sea Power”), an associate professor of military/naval history and modern English history at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia; Paul Reid (“The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill: Defender of the Realm, 1940 — 1965”), the author of the third and final volume of the trilogy begun by William Manchester, “The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill: Defender of the Realm, 1940 — 1965” (published November 2012) and Dr. Rob Havers (“Winston Churchill: The Iron Curtain Speech”), executive director of the Churchill Memorial and Museum at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri, where Churchill gave his “Iron Curtain” speech. For information, 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