Sunday, July 7, 2013

New Orleans museum opens exhibit tied to historic publication of memoirs

            This past spring the Historic New Orleans Collection published an incredible find, the previously unpublished memoir of Marc-Antoine Caillot, an employee of the French Company of the Indies, titled, “A Company Man: The Remarkable French-Atlantic Voyage of a Clerk for the Company of the Indies.” 
             The manuscript contained Caillot’s recollection of traveling to Louisiana and his experiences in the early French colony.
            The Historic New Orleans Collection has opened an exhibition titled “Pipe Dreams: Louisiana under the French Company of the Indies, 1717–1731,” that complements the books and offers a perspective of 18th century Louisiana life. The exhibit looks at Louisiana’s role in relation to the company’s other trade outposts, especially those in the Indian Ocean, and the establishment of New Orleans as the colony’s capital. It also examines the development of tobacco culture in America, Louisiana’s population during the company years and the war between the Natchez and the French and their Indian allies between 1729 and 1731.
            More than 100 items are on display, including manuscripts and engraved maps and plans; contemporary artworks and drawings; archaeological artifacts from Port Dauphin, Old Mobile, Natchez and New Orleans; manuscript and three-dimensional items related to John Law, the Company of the West, the collapse of Law’s Système, and the Company of the Indies; and trade items circulated throughout the company’s global networks.
            The exhibit continues until Sept. 15 at the French Quarter museum. For information, visit

New releases
            Stephanie Hepburn, an independent journalist based in New Orleans, has published “Human Trafficking Around the World: Hidden in Plain Sight” with Rita J. Simon. Hepburn first saw human trafficking in post-Katrina New Orleans, an experience that sparked global examination of trafficking in more than 23 nations. This study, with intimate accounts and interviews, points out those most vulnerable in each nation and the specific cultural, economic, environmental and geopolitical factors that contribute to each nation’s trafficking issues. Joanne Myers of the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs said this about the book, “Stephanie personifies investigative journalism at its finest.” 
             Jerry DeWitt, a former pastor in DeRidder, questioned his Pentecostal faith when a member of his flock called seeking prayer for her brother who had been in a serious accident. As DeWitt searched for the right words to console her, he found that the faith which had once been the cornerstone of his life was gone. DeWitt was eventually outed as an atheist and shunned by much of DeRidder’s highly religious community, losing his job, his wife and nearly everything he’d known. His book, “Hope after Faith: An Ex-Pastor’s Journey from Belief to Atheism” with Ethan Brown tells the story of his passage from pastor with a deep Christian faith to a committed and considered atheism, one driven by humanism and what he calls “a happiness and self-confidence obtained by living free of fear.”
            New Orleanian author and artist Alex Beard is known for his highly imaginative children’s books “Monkey See, Monkey Draw” and “The Jungle Grapevine.” But I completely missed when his latest book came out, “Crocodile Tears.” The book follows Black Rhino and Tickbird wanting to know why Crocodile is crying. They search the African landscape for other animals who might know the answer. When Black Rhino finally asks Crocodile why he’s crying, he learns an interesting fact: Crocodile isn’t really crying; he’s wetting his eyes in the hot, dry sun like all crocodiles do. A share of the proceeds from sales of the book will go to the Shompole Community Trust, a land and animal reserve in Kenya.
            Acadian House Publishing of Lafayette has released “Leadership in the New Normal” by U.S Amry Lt. General Russel Honoré, a short course designed to help readers become more effective leaders. It describes modern leadership principles and techniques and illustrates them with stories from the author’s life experiences — including 37 years in the military and spearheading the post-Katrina search-and-rescue mission in New Orleans and restoring law and order to the hurricane-ravaged city. In “Leadership in the New Normal,” Honoré defines leadership as “the art and science of influencing others to willingly follow in order to accomplish a task or mission.”

New Poet Laureate
            Congrats to Ava Leavell Haymon for being chosen Louisiana’s new state poet laureate. The nationally recognized Baton Rouge poet and teacher will serve a two-year term. Haymon has organized the Artists-in-the-Schools program in Baton Rouge, the Junior Great Books program in several parishes and numerous classes at LSU.  She is the author of “The Strict Economy of Fire,” “Kitchen Heat” and “Why the House is Made of Gingerbread,” published by LSU Press. Jack Bedell of Southeastern and Laura Mullen of LSU were the other nominees. Haymon follows in the steps of previous poet laureates Brenda Marie Osbey, Darrell Bourque and Julie Kane.   

Book news
            “Butterfly in the Typewriter: The Tragic Life of John Kennedy Toole and the Remarkable Story of ‘A Confederacy of Dunces’” by Cory MacLauchlin is one of 50 books honored for its cover in the 2012 50 Books 50 Covers contest by Design Observer. The designer was Paul Sahre and the art director Jonathan Sainsbury. To view the entire list, visit,
            Ronlyn Domingue of Lafayette published her second novel this year, “The Mapmaker’s War,” with a sequel to follow. She reports that because the sequel “is a giant epic beast” her publisher decided to make the series a trilogy. The sequels to “The Mapmaker’s War” will be “The Chronicle of Secret Riven” in late spring, early summer 2014 and a third book in 2015. 

            The Berries, Bridges and Books Writers Conference will be Saturday at Woodland Park Baptist Church, 1909 J.W. Davis Drive in Hammond. Dr. Mary Manheim will be the keynote speaker. Authors Christa Allen, Dave Berwick, Sylvia Rochester, Rosemary Smith, Kathryn Martin, Lynette Vinet and Nancy Wagner, among others, will be in attendance. Marketing representative Mary Pirosko, publisher Mary Gehman and bookseller Ken Foster are also on the slate. For more information contact or
            The LexiCon Writers Conference will be July 12-14 at the Hilton Garden Inn in Denton, Texas. For information, visit

Edith Dupré Library
            A new exhibit at Edith Garland Dupré Library on the University of Louisiana-Lafayette campus in Lafayette reveals the impact of the Civil War on Louisiana 150 years ago, including Acadiana. “The Civil War in Louisiana, 1863” is the fourth in a series of seven exhibits about the war, is free and on display through July 31. The exhibit includes first-hand accounts, histories of military units, scholarly studies and artist’s sketches that were published in illustrated magazines. There are three Civil War diarists featured as well: Kate Stone, who lived near Vicksburg, Miss.; Sarah Morgan, a refugee from Baton Rouge who was staying near Port Hudson, La.; and Priscilla Bond, who became a refugee in Abbeville, after her Houma sugar plantation, Crescent Place, was burned by Union troops. One of the artifacts on display is the Sept. 26, 1863, edition of The Opelousas Courier newspaper, which was printed on wallpaper. The library is open from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, 7:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Fridays, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays and 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. Sundays (except today due to the Fourth of July holiday).

Book events
            Thinking about writing? My creative writing classes begin Tuesday at UL-Lafayette’s Continuing Education, otherwise known as Potpourri. On July 20 I will offer a seminar titled “So You Want to Get Published,” looking at the many ways of getting a book finished and on the shelf or in the Kindle. For more information, visit
            Peter M. Wolf will sign copies of “My New Orleans, Gone Away: A Memoir of Loss and Renewal” at 6 p.m. Wednesday, July 10, at Octavia Books in New Orleans. Wolf is the founder of the Thomas Moran Trust, Chairman of the Godchaux-Reserve Plantation Fund and a trustee in East Hampton of Guild Hall and The Village Preservation Society. His research and writing have been supported by the National Endowment for the Arts, the Ford Foundation, the American Federation of Arts and a Fulbright Fellowship.
            The Capitol Park Museum is hosting two talks in July highlighting Louisiana's Acadian, Cajun and Creole heritage. The free programs will be held at 6:30 p.m. Thursdays, July 11 and 18. Guests are invited to arrive early to view the exhibits as the museum galleries will remain open until the program begins. Refreshments will be provided by the Louisiana State Museum Friends beginning at 6 p.m. The first talk this Thursday will be “The Creole Trail: Genealogical Ties Unite Pointe Coupee, Avoyelles, Rapides and Natchitoches Parishes” by Brian J. Costello of New Roads.
            The Vermilion Parish Library concludes its Summer Reading Program with a party at 9 a.m. Tuesday, July 9, at the Abbeville Library and noon Wednesday at the Delcambre and Erath libraries, 1 p.m. Wednesday at the Gueydan Library and 1:30 p.m. Wednesday in Maurice.

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