If there is one thing you come away with after a visit to the Louisiana Book Festival, held last weekend in Baton Rouge, is that we Southerners tell a good story well.
|Rita Leganski, right, and Erin Bass.|
Take Rita Leganski, for instance. The author of “The Silence of Bonaventure Arrow” was interviewed by Lafayette’s Erin Bass, publisher of Deep South magazine. Legandski hails from Wisconsin and teaches at DePaul University in Chicago but cherishes Southern writers and the “magical realism” that exists here. She wrote her charming novel set in Louisiana and was using her time at the book festival to gather information for her next book, which may include Acadiana settings and a Cajun protagonist. A few of Leganski’s favorites were Carson McCullers, William Faulkner and Flannery O’Connor.
Debuting at the festival this year was a spoken word and musical performance titled “The Shoe Burnin’: Stories of Southern Soul.” The collaboration came about when a group of friends and artists in Alabama threw old shoes in the fire when firewood ran out. The incident started a tradition of telling stories involving shoes and their meanings to the owners, then tossing them into the blaze.
The resulting performance combines deeply meaningful, satisfying stories from the critical voices inside our heads killing our spirits to the quirky nature of Southerners with music. The group of authors and musicians read a piece, then performed a song, for an hour of some fine storytelling, causing everyone present to jump to their feet upon its conclusion. The book, produced by Rivers Edge Media, contains a CD of both; visit http://www.riversedgemedia.com/.
There’s always way too much to see at the Louisiana Book Festival, and my own appearance kept me from enjoying much of it, but what I witnessed renewed my dedication to the literary voices emerging from our soil. If you missed the festival, check out some photos I took at the Louisiana Book News Facebook page. For reviews of some of the above-mentioned books, visit my blog, Louisianabooknews.blogspot.com.
Dr. Marcia Gaudet, professor of English emerita, will speak on “Gumbo as Metaphor: Foodways in the Work of Ernest J. Gaines” as part of the inaugural Ernest J. Gaines Lecture at 4 p.m. Wednesday in the Ernest J. Gaines Center of the UL Dupre Library. The program is free and open to the public and parking is available on the corner of East St. Mary Boulevard and Girard Park Circle. The Gaines Center is located on the third floor of Dupré Library, 400 St. Mary Blvd. For more information, contact Derek Mosley, 482-1848.
Author Claire Manes will discuss “Out of the Shadow of Leprosy: The Carville Letters and Stories of the Landry Family” at 4 p.m. Thursday in the hallway outside the Gaines Center. The book is based on letters written by Manes’ grandfather and his siblings who were confined to the leprosarium in Carville during the mid-twentieth century. Manes began her research about the Carville leprosarium for her Ph. D. studies under Gaudet at UL. She is now a UL adjunct professor of English.
Also at the library on Thursday is the 75th anniversary of The Federal Depository and the public is invited to an open house from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. in the first floor main hallway. There will be an exhibit and a slide show presentation in the Gloria S. Cline Bibliographic Instruction Lab, and refreshments will be served. To explore federal government resources through the Dupré Library web pages, visit http://library.louisiana.edu/Gov/ .
The Lafayette Public Library Foundation (LPLF) will host its third annual spelling bee for adults on Thursday at the Lafayette Science Museum downtown. Cajun personality Fred Mills will serve as emcee. The spelling bee starts at 7 p.m., but guests are invited to arrive at 6 p.m. for food and drinks from local restaurants and a special viewing of the museum’s exhibit “Leaving Earth: The Story of Space Travel.” Tickets are $25 in advance or $35 at the door, with proceeds benefitting the Lafayette Public Library. For information, call 593-4770 or visit www.spellabration.com.
Voices in Autumn presents poets Marc Vincenz, Gina Ferrara and Carol Rice and fiction writer Matthew Hofferek from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday at Carpe Diem Gelato and Espresso Bar, 812 Jefferson St. For more information contact Clare L. Martin at firstname.lastname@example.org or 962-5886.
The Coffee and Conversation series presents Poppy Tooker: Louisiana Eats: The People, the Food and Their Stories at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the East Bank Regional Library at 4747 W. Napoleon Ave. in Metairie. The free event includes a book signing, Q&A and complimentary coffee.
Louisiana Cultural Vistas columnist and Tulane University professor Richard Campanella presents Arrivals, a three-part series examining previous population influxes in New Orleans. This week’s event concludes with a panel on the post-Katrina period, moderated by LEH’s Brian Boyles at 6 p.m. Wednesday. The series is free and open to the public.
Joie de Vivre Coffee & Culture Café in Breaux Bridge presents “Artistry of the Atchafalaya,” featuring a photographic and cypress wood exhibit, book reading and signing, and power point presentation by author Greg Guirard from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday. Carla Woody and Becca Begnaud discuss the healing arts from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Friday at the café. Both events are free.
Archive Aid 10 fundraiser, to help defray costs of a student worker and work station equipment upgrades at the Center for Louisiana Studies, will be Friday at the Blue Moon Saloon and Guesthouse. This year's featured performers include the Rex Street Rounders, the Revelers and Bonsoir, Catin. Archivist Chris Segura and intern Adam Doucet are preparing a complimentary meal for supporters and hosting a jam session under the pavilion.
Louisiana Poet Laureate Ava Leavell Haymon, along with Acadiana authors Diane Moore, Suzi Thornton and Margaret Gibson Simon will read from their work as part of Fall Poetry Night beginning at 6 p.m. Saturday, at the A&E Gallery, 335 W. St. Peter St. in New Iberia.
Cheré Coen is the author of “Haunted Lafayette, Louisiana” and “Exploring Cajun Country: A Historic Guide to Acadiana,” both from The History Press, 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 email@example.com.