Sunday, September 20, 2015

Joshua Clegg Caffery transforms Louisiana folklore in new innovative book of poetry by LSU Press

Musician, poet and folklorist Joshua Clegg Caffery of Franklin reinvents the lyrical folk heritage of southern Louisiana with his new book of poetry, “In the Creole Twilight: Poemsand Songs from Louisiana Folklore,” published by LSU Press
Caffery, author of “Traditional Music in Coastal Louisiana” and currently a visiting professor in folklore at Indiana University in Bloomington, uses rhythmic structure, styles and narratives of Louisiana oral and song traditions with stories that range from the freaky folklore of the loup garou to the heartfelt story of a father playing imaginary dinosaurs with his daughter, based on benedictions used at rural French weddings. Poems include an Irish Bend resident in love with a Native American girl whom he abandons after the birth of their child. The child dies and becomes the fearful feufollet, or swamp gases, until the youngest in town attempts to “finish this thing.” There’s a sing-song poem relating old superstitions and something humorous about two mischievous godparents named Gabriel and Madeline with roaming eyes, among so many other wonderful tales.
Caffery offers insights into his poetric subjects with explanations and folklore history. The feufollet, for instance, comes from the old story of swamp gases being unbaptized children but Caffery uses family genealogy to round out the story.
A founding member of the Red Stick Ramblers and a longtime member of the band Feufollet, Caffery has been nominated for a Grammy for his work on the Feufollet album “En Couleurs.” He has also served as the 2013–14 Alan Lomax Fellow in Folklife Studies at the Library of Congress.

ULL lectures
University of Louisiana at Lafayette Writer-in-Residence Dr. John McNally will present the 20th Annual Gloria Fiero Lecture at 11 a.m. Thursday in the Ducrest Guilfry Auditorium at Angelle Hall on the UL campus. He will speak on “The Art of Failure,” addressing the necessity and benefits of failure as a crucial part of the creative process. The lecture is free and open to the public.
McNally is author or editor of 14 books, including three novels, “After the Workshop,” “The Book of Ralph” and “America’s Report Card.” His short story collection “Troublemakers” was the winner of the John Simmons Short Fiction Award and the Nebraska Book Award and “Ghosts of Chicago” was named a Chicagoland Indie Bestseller and voted one of the top 20 fiction books of 2008 by readers of The Believer. His nonfiction books include “The Creative Writer’s Survival Guide: Advice from an Unrepentant Novelist” and “Vivid and Continuous: Essays on the Craft of Fiction,” both published the University of Iowa Press. The Chicago native is also the author of four books which will be published over the next three years: a young adult novel out next month, “Lord of the Ralphs” historical novel, a book about failure and its benefits and a collection of personal essays.
            William Pittman Andrews, executive director of the Ogden Museum of Southern Art in New Orleans, will give the annual Flora Levy Lecture, hosted by the Department of English, at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Angelle Hall. Andrews will speak on “George Rodrigue: Painting to the Frame,” a phrase coined by Rodrigue referring to his use of frames reclaimed from various sources. An exhibit of Rodrigue’s paintings of former Flora Levy speakers is on loan from the UL Foundation and the Rodrigue Foundation in New Orleans to the Paul and Lulu Hilliard Art Museum on the UL-Lafayette campus until Jan. 2, 2016. For more information, call (337) 482-2278.

At the library
            The Friends of the Ouachita Public Library Book Sale will be from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday and Saturday at the West Ouachita Library on 188 Hwy. 546 (Exit 108 from I-20) in West Monroe.

Big Easy Read
            “Readings ‘Round the Big Easy: A Celebration of National Reading Group Month” will feature a host of authors beginning at 12:30 p.m. Saturday at the New Orleans Museum of Art in City Park of New Orleans. Nancy Dixon, author of “New Orleans Lit: 200 Years of New Orleans Literature,” will be the keynote speaker. Authors include John Ed Bradley (“Call Me by My Name”), C.S. Harris (“Who Buries the Dead: A Sebastien St. Cyr Mystery”), Sybil Morial (“Witness to Change: From Jim Crow to Political Empowerment”), Tiffany Quay Tyson (“Three Rivers”), Kent Wascom (“Secessia”), Karen White (“The Sound of Glass”) and Richard Wall, husband of the late Carol Wall, author of “Mister Owita’s Guide to Gardening: How I Learned the Unexpected Joy of a Green Thumb and an Open Heart.”
            The event includes a noon book club meet and greet, 1 p.m. keynote speech, 2 p.m. author panel with Susan Larson, 3 p.m. booksigning in the museum gift shop and 3:30 p.m. afternoon tea with authors in Café NOMA. All events are free except for the tea, which is $38 per person, registration required by Sept. 18. For information or to register for the tea, mail a check to Sheila Cook, Librarian, New Orleans Museum of Art, P.O. Box 19123, New Orleans, LA 70179.

Book events
Christina Vella signs “George Washington Carver: A Life” at 6 p.m. Monday at Octavia Books in New Orleans.
Stuart Stevens discusses and signs his book, “The Last Season: A Father, A Son and a Lifetime of College Football” at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Garden District Book Shop of New Orleans.
Military historian, author and authority on German U-boats C.J. Christ will discuss “World War II in the Gulf of Mexico: Documenting a War Close to Our Shores” at 6 p.m. Wednesday at the Jeanerette Museum, 500 E. Main St. in Jeanerette. Christ has published hundreds of articles and regularly lectures on military issues. He will discuss his years of research as he searched for the German submarine U-166 in the Gulf of Mexico. This free program is more suitable for an adult audience. A book signing will follow the event. For more information, call (337) 276-4408 or email jeanerettemuseum@yahoo.com.
Festival of Words literary organization hosts a multilingual open mic from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday at Chicory’s Coffee and Café, 219 E. Martin Luther King Drive in Grand Coteau. The free event features poems, songs and stories performed in different languages. All ages welcome.
Elise Blackwell signs “The Lower Quarter” at 6 p.m. Thursday at Octavia Books of New Orleans. Blackwell is the author of “The Unnatural History of Cypress Parish” and “Hunger.”
George Sanchez reads and signs his latest Jeff Chaussier New Orleans mystery “Explorations End” at 6 p.m. Thursday at Garden District Book Shop in New Orleans.
New York Times best-selling author Lea Michele signs her new book, “You First: Journal Your Way to Your Best Life” at 4 p.m. Saturday at Garden District Book Shop. To receive a wrist-band for this limited event, participants must purchase the book from Garden District Book Shop after it goes on sale Tuesday.
            Dixie Poché of Lafayette celebrates Acadiana’s mom and pop groceries and restaurants in “Classic Eateries of Cajun Country” and she will discuss the tradition of Cajun boucheries in a book launch and food demonstration from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday at the Southern Food and Beverage Museum in New Orleans. During the food demo, guests may sample pork dishes such as boudin, hogs head cheese and ponce prepared by Luke Deville of Teet’s Food Store from Ville Platte and French bread from Lejeune’s French Bread of Jeanerette. Poché is a corporate and travel writer and graduate of ULL in journalism.

Cheré Dastugue Coen is the author of “Forest Hill, Louisiana: A Bloom Town History,” “Haunted Lafayette, Louisiana” and “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 also writes Louisiana romances under the pen name of Cherie Claire, “A Cajun Dream” and “The Letter.” Write her at cherecoen@gmail.com.