Sunday, May 12, 2013

Author sheds light on living with leprosy

            In the 20th century patients of leprosy, now referred to as Hansen’s Disease, were often admitted to the leprosarium in Carville, upriver from New Orleans along the River Road. One such patient was Edmond Gilbert Landry, who spent time at Carville from 1924 to 1932. Edmond was actually one of five children born in New Iberia who contracted the disease and who spent time at Carville.            
            Edmond’s granddaughter, Clare Manes of Lafayette, discovered his letters and those of his siblings and compiled a book to shed light on the disease and the experience of living at Carville in “Out of the Shadow of Leprosy:  the Carville Letters and Stories of the Landry Family,” published by the University of Mississippi Press. Not only is it a glimpse inside Carville from a patient’s point of view, but at the fear, isolation and loneliness that accompanied the disease at the beginning of the 20th century. Only until Clanes discovered the letters did she truly learn of her grandfather’s condition, for it was never spoken of.
            “Our family never spoke about my grandfather, Edmond Landry, and his siblings: Norbert, Marie, Albert, and Amelie, all of whom spent the last years of their lives in Carville at the United States Public Health Services Hospital #66,” she writes. “We absorbed the message initiated by Edmond’s wife, Claire, that questions about the family were taboo.”
            Manes is a retired English and speech teacher of Remington College. She will speak and sign copies of her books at 2 p.m. Saturday, May 18, at Barnes and Noble in Lafayette.

Bourque’s latest
            Former Louisiana Poet Laureate Darrell Bourque will speak and sign copies of his latest book of poetry, “Megan’s Guitar and Other Poems from Acadie,” at 3:30 p.m. Thursday at the Ernest J. Gaines Center of UL’s Dupre Library in Lafayette. The book has been published by UL Press and copies will be available at the reception for purchase and signing. 

 Contest winners
            The Louisiana Center for the Book in the State Library of Louisiana has announced the 2013 winners in the annual Letters About Literature contest. This year, 498 fourth- through 10th-grade Louisiana students wrote personal letters to authors, living or dead, from any genre explaining how what they read changed the students’ way of thinking about the world or themselves.
            The Louisiana winners of the competition from throughout the state are listed below.
            In Level I (grades 4 – 6): first place, Alexis Laster, Crawford Elementary School, Arcadia; second place, Adrianna Hawkins, Creekside Junior High, Pearl River and third place, Brailyn King, Northwestern Middle School, Zachary.
            In Level II (grades 7 – 8): first place, Story Frantzen, Episcopal School of Acadiana, Broussard; second place, Mathilda Meyer, Lusher Charter Middle School, New Orleans; third place, Tresaundra Roberson, Lusher Charter Middle School, New Orleans.
             In Level III (grades 9 – 12): first place, Catherine Dunlap, Dunlap Academy, Walker; second place, Logan Buras, St. Paul’s School, Covington; third place, Michael Seenappa, St. Paul’s School, Covington.          
             State winners will be recognized at the Louisiana Book Festival on Nov. 2. Winners will be awarded $100 for first place, $75 for second place and $50 for third place, made possible by a Library of Congress grant. Louisiana’s first place winners’ entries were submitted to the Library of Congress for the national competition.

Book events
            Mary Manhein will address the St. Francisville Rotary Club and talk about and sign her novel “Floating Souls: The Canal Murders” at 7:30 a.m. Tuesday at the Magnusson Hotel. Manhein’s novel is based on her many years in forensic anthropology and as head of the FACES Lab at LSU.  
            There will be a Birthday Bash for poet Patrice Melnick, author of “Po-boy Contraband: From Diagnosis Back to Life” and founder of the annual Festival of Words at 7 p.m. Thursday at Casa Azul Gifts in Grand Coteau. Also, the Baton Rouge Slam Team will hold a “Friendraiser” with Desiree Dallagiacomo, Rodrick Minor, Donny Rose and Jocelyn Young.
            Mel Coyle, Quo Vadis Gex Breaux and Asali DeVan will read from their works at 7:30 p.m. Thursday as part of 17 Poets! Literary & Performance Series at the Gold Mine Saloon in New Orleans, 701 Dauphine St in the French Quarter. All shows followed by an open mic. For information, visit
            Vermilion Parish Library will offer a Mother-Daughter Tea beginning at 10 a.m. Saturday at the Abbeville Library. Registration is required; call (337) 893-2674.
            Children's picture book author/illustrator Rebecca Emberley will sign copies of her latest book, “The Itsy Bitsy Spider,” which she created with her Caldacott Medal-winning father Ed Emberley at 11 a.m. Saturday at Octavia Books in New Orleans.

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