Sunday, January 31, 2016

Arcadia offers two new books on Louisiana towns

Lafayette journalist and photographer Linda A. Meaux has published an Images of America book on “Broussard,” which documents the origins of the community from the time Acadian brothers Alexandre and Joseph Broussard arrived to the turn of the 20th century. It’s filled with images of church life, schools, business leaders, sports figures, community dances, musicians and much more. There’s the Billeaud Sugar Mill, National League umpire Greg Bonin, the St. Cecilia School and Russell Flugence, a three-time Golden Gloves champion. Meaux uses information and photos from the Broussard Historical Preservation Society members, the Lafayette Clerk of Court, the Billeaud Companies and others.
Meaux will sign copies of “Broussard” from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 6, at Barnes & Noble Lafayette.
Another book out by the Arcadia Publishing series is “Hammond” by Eric W. Johnson, the director of the Sims Memorial Library at Southeastern, along with Southeastern librarian Catherine H. Tijerino. Images were compiled largely from the Center for Southeast Louisiana Studies and Southeastern archives.

Little Free Library
Crowley has a new free library at 400 W. Northern Ave., across the street from Crowley Middle, thanks to a Christmas gift Nancy Cantey received. Several months ago, Cantey mentioned to her children that she really loved the idea of Little Free Libraries, neighborhood book exchanges in private miniature “libraries” that promote both reading and community.  The motto is “Take a book, leave a book.” As both Charity and Kye Cantey are avid readers — Charity is a school librarian in Baton Rouge — they thought that a Little Free Library would make a perfect Christmas gift for Nancy and her husband, Butch. With the expertise and DIY abilities of friend Kevin Ghirardi, they built the library almost entirely from 100-year-old materials, including an old-growth cypress door cut to construct the side and back panels, a kitchen cabinet door with original hinges and an antique doorknob. Extra vintage touches were the beadboard ceiling and copper roof. For more information, including a map of Little Free Library locations around the world, visit
Want your little library mentioned? Let me know.

New releases
Perhaps ironically, best-selling author and inspiration speaker Sara Avant Stover suffered a period of darkness after the success of her book, “The Way of the Happy Woman.” Reeling from old wounds, she came to a realization that women spend too much time being outwardly successful to the detriment of the feminine soul. She shares her experiences, along with ways to reconnect, in “The Book of She: Your Heroine’s Journey into the Heart of Feminine Power.”
Stover advocates embracing “crisis points,” which may help us to grow. “They initiate times when we’re called to detach from our smaller sense of self to graduate into living the fuller spectrum of our womanhood, humanity, and divinity,” she writes. Her book offers guidance to reconnect with “SHE,” the feminine traits and archetypal guidance that live inside women. Each chapter serves as an exercise into self-exploration.
Louisiana Poet Laureate Emerita Brenda Marie Osbey has published a new collection comprised of poetry written and published over four decades titled “All Souls: Essential Poems” by LSU Press. The New Orleans native has also published “All Saints: New and Selected Poems” and “History and Other Poems.”
Also out by LSU Press this month is “Brown v. Board and the Transformation of American Culture: Education and theSouth in the Age of Desegregation” by Ben Keppel, associate professor of history at the University of Oklahoma, and “Hispanic and Latino New Orleans:Immigration and Identity since the Eighteenth Century” by LSU associate professor of geography Andrew Sluyter, Tulane’s Center for Global Education Annie M. Gibson, LSU PhD candidate Case Watkins and Middle Tennessee State lecturer James P. Chaney.
            Tucker E. Axum III has written a book about his uncle, Mage Axum, who served in World War II in “The Reawakening of Mage Axum.” Tucker Axum grew up in Lafayette, graduated from UL-Lafayette and now lives in East Texas. He has authored articles about the martial arts and aviation.
Book events this week
Joie de Vivre Café of Breaux Bridge hosts an evening of poetry by four local authors — Darrell Bourque, Elizabeth Burk, Jay Bruce Fuller and Patrice Melnick — beginning at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 2. The authors will read from their works, share stories, answer questions and sign books for sale.
C.C. Lockwood will give a photo presentation as part of McNeese University’s SAGE Program from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, Feb. 1, at the university’s SEED Center. A booksigning will follow. Lockwood is the author of many books, including the recent “Louisiana Wild.” Registration is required; visit
            Vern Baxter and Pam Jenkins discuss and sign “Left to Chance: Hurricane Katrina and the Story of Two New Orleans Neighborhoods” (University of Texas Press) at 6 p.m. Monday, Feb. 1, at Octavia Books of New Orleans. “Left to Chance” takes readers into two African American neighborhoods — working-class Hollygrove and middle-class Pontchartrain Park — to learn how their residents experienced the storm and the long road back to normal life.

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

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Jan. 27 is Multicultural Children’s Book Day

                  We will get young readers interested in reading if they can relate to books and subjects. That’s why there’s Multicultural Children’s Book Day on Jan. 27, an event to spread the word and raise awareness about the importance of diversity in children’s literature. According to the MCCBD, their “mission is to not only raise awareness for the kid’s books that celebrate diversity, but to get more of these books into classrooms and libraries.”
One of these books is “Our Lives Matter: The Ballou Story Project,” a collection of essays, poems and photography of 30 teenagers from Frank W. Ballou High School in Washington, D.C.  The book was published last year by Shout Mouse Press, “a non-profit writing program and publishing house for unheard voices.” Shout Mouse Press works to empower writers from marginalized communities to tell their stories in their own voices and, once published, be the change they want to see in the world.
                  “Our Lives Matter” showcases teens of color from a variety of backgrounds, all experiencing the pains of adolescence in a world marked by inequality, civil unrest and violence. There’s Anthony Simpson converting to Islam and explaining why, using examples of how he’s reached common ground between religions. K.F. had to leave school to care for her sisters when her mother went to prison. M.H. Jordan writes a letter to the folks on the bus she felt judged her by her dress and skin. Triony Valdivia left the violence of Bolivia and will now be the first in his family to attend college.
                  The common thread through the book is one of hope and determination. These teenagers refuse to be judged and pigeon-holed, offering their stories to emphasize their differences, their dreams, their commitment to education and change. Through it all forms a thread of hope that the new generation will make the world a better place and fight the barriers who keep us separated.
                  On Jan. 27, I encourage you all — whether you’re readers, parents, teachers, caregivers or librarians — to choose a book such as “Our Lives Matter” and expose young readers to books and experiences of other cultures, languages, traditions and religions. Or maybe offer those who rarely see themselves in popular culture a chance to relate to stories by reading them diverse literature. K-8 teachers may earn a free hardcover Multicultural Children’s Book Day book donated by the Junior Library Guild and pre-screened and approved by them as well, by clicking here
                  Multicultural Children’s Book Day is the project of Mia Wenjen from Pragmatic Mom and Valarie Budayr from Jump Into a Book/Audrey Press.
            The sponsors for Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2016 are:

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

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Festival of Words hosts evening with Ibrahima Seck; Poet Laureate Julie Kane in Best American Poetry 2016

The Festival of Words Cultural Arts Collective hosts an evening with Ibrahima Seck, academic director of the Whitney Plantation slavery museum, along with Grand Coteau residents Myrtle Senegal Henry and Juanita Henry Miller sharing personal stories beginning at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Chickory’s Coffee & Cafe in Grand Coteau. Originally from Senegal, Seck is a historian and the author of “Bouki Fait Gombo,” which documents the culinary and musical culture that arose from the Whitney Plantation. Seck, who is also a Grand Coteau resident, will draw connections between West African and Louisiana culture. The oral history presentation will be videotaped and placed in the Cajun and Creole Archives at the Center for Louisiana Studies in the “Grand Coteau Voices” collection. Participants are encouraged to bring their own poems, songs or stories for the open mic. This free, community event is suitable for all ages and is sponsored with support from the UL Center for Louisiana Studies. For more information call Patrice (337) 254-9695 or email

Book news
Former Louisiana Poet Laureate Julie Kane has a poem in Best American Poetry 2016, a book that’s guest edited by Edward Hirsch and forthcoming in September. Her 2013 book, published by White Violet Press, was “Paper Bullets.” Kane is a professor of English at Northwestern State University and winner of the 2014 Excellence in Teaching Award. She was the 2011-2013 Louisiana Poet Laureate.
Rosemary Smith of Lafayette received an honorable mention in general fiction at the New England Book Festival for her “Tiny Bones,” a ghost story about an old house she fell in love with while stationed at Ft. Rucker, Ala., in the 1970s. Her first novel, “No Earthly Boundaries,” received an honorable mention in the South Florida Book Festival last year.  

Book events
Former St. Landry Parish District Attorney Morgan Goudeau III will discuss Louisiana’s 40th governor in a lecture titled “The Life of Huey P. Long: 1928-1935,” at 2 p.m. today at the Alexandre Mouton House/Lafayette Museum. Doors open at 1:30 p.m.
The Jeanerette Museum is hosting a history talk with Paul Darby III, who will lead the discussion on little known facts about NASA missions from the moon walks to the Space Station and Space Shuttle at 6 p.m. Wednesday. Darby is a Jeanerette native and assistant professor at UL’s Electrical and Computer Engineering department. He is the winner of the Silver Snoopy, NASA’s highest award presented to a civilian. The program is free and suitable for adults. For more information, visit
            Kiera Cass reads from and signs her book “The Siren” at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Barnes and Noble, 3721 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie.

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

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Lafayette Reads Together Joshua Davis' 'Spare Parts'

            Lafayette Reads Together is back, choosing “Spare Parts: Four Undocumented Teenagers, One Ugly Robot, and the Battle for the American Dream” by Joshua Davis as the community read.
Here’s how it works, Acadiana readers enjoy how four Latino students overcame the odds to take on MIT and other top-notch schools in a national underwater robotics competition and then discuss and enjoy events planned around the book, including a visit from the author on Feb. 23. Davis is the author of several books, with “Spare Parts” being adapted into a documentary, “Underwater Dreams,” and then a 2015 movie, “Spare Parts,” starring George Lopez, Carlos Pena, Marisa Tomei and Jamie Lee Curtis. He is also a film producer and co-founder of Epic Magazine and Epic Digital. He has been a contributing editor at Wired since 2003, and also written for the New Yorker, GQ, Outside, Maxim, Men’s Journal, Men’s Health and Food & Wine. The PG movie will be shown at 6 p.m. Thursday at South Regional and 5:30 p.m. Jan. 28 at North Regional. The documentary and discussion will be shown in February. Other events include a robotics day. For more information and to see a schedule of events and obtain a copy of the book, visit
The first event of the spring semester for the UL Lafayette Concert Series will be “Of Ebony Embers: Vignettes of the Harlem Renaissance” beginning at 7:30 p.m. Friday in the Burke Hall Theater on campus. “Of Ebony Embers” is a chamber music theater work that combines an actor portraying multiple characters and a pianist performing works of African American composers. The event celebrates the lives of the great African American poets Langston Hughes, Countee Cullen and Claude McKay. The event is free to students, faculty and staff and general admission is $15.

Ceremonies for the Baton Rouge Area Foundation’s ninth annual Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence will begin at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the Manship Theatre at the Shaw Center for the Arts in Baton Rouge. This year’s recipient is T. Geronimo Johnson, author of “Welcome to Braggsville.” Doors open at 6 p.m. The ceremony is free and open to the public, although reservations are requested at rsvp@braf.orgJohnson will read from his winning selection, “Welcome to Braggsville,” a socially provocative and dark comedic novel about four University of California, Berkeley students who stage a protest during a Civil War reenactment in rural Georgia. Johnson will also speak at a special book talk at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Ernest J. Gaines Center on the UL-Lafayette campus.

The Writers and Readers Symposium: A Celebration of Literature and Art, will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Feb. 20 at Hemingbough in St. Francisville. Authors include award-winning author Margaret McMullan, who in 2015, with Phillip Lopate curated “Every Father’s Daughter,” an anthology of essays about fathers by great women writers such as Alice Munro, Ann Hood and Jane Smiley. Writer and photographer Philip Gould, muralist Robert Dafford, poet Mona Lisa Saloy and author Michael Rubin will also present and sign their books. There will be workshops for beginning and experienced writers from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Feb. 21 (the following day) at the West Feliciana Parish Library. Participants should sign up before Jan. 31 so they can enter work to be critiqued. For more information, contact Dr. Olivia Pass at or visit

Book events
            Alan G. Gauthreaux will speak about his collection of mysterious and overlooked mysteries, “Dark Bayou — Infamous Louisiana Homicides,” at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 20, at the East Bank Regional Library, Metairie.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Cookbook Thursday: Easy to make party recipes for Super Bowl Sunday, Carnival festivities

            Super Bowl Sunday is only three weeks away. And to make it even more adventurous — for those of us planning festivities that weekend — it’s the final weekend before Mardi Gras. So for the next three Thursdays, I’ll be spotlighting recipes from Louisiana and Southern cookbooks to start you thinking about Super Bowl Sunday and Carnival parties.
Today, we’re focusing on what’s easy. The following are two ideas for interesting and simple dishes to whip together for any party, one from the Junior League of Lafayette’s “Something to Talk About: Occasions We Celebrate in South Louisiana,” which offers many great recipes for a variety of events, and “Y’all Come Over: A Celebration of Southern Hospitality, Food, and Memories” by Patsy Caldwell and Amy Lyles Wilson. Why wait until Feb. 7 and the Super Bowl? Make these now for the NFL playoffs and the upcoming Carnival parades.

Feta Cheese Spread
1 pound feta cheese, crumbled
3 ounces sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano, or 2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme, or 2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
1 cup (or more) olive oil
Directions: Combine the feta cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, parsley, garlic, oregano, thyme and red pepper flakes in a serving bowl and mix well. Pour the olive oil over the cheese mixture. (Do not stir.) Chill, covered with plastic wrap, for several hours. Stir well before serving. Serve with stone-ground wheat crackers or water crackers.

The party duo of Patsy Caldwell and Amy Lyles Wilson offer this buffalo chicken dip that uses a store-bought rotisserie chicken — the authors admit you can cook your own but why? Add some hot sauce, cheeses and a bottle of ranch dressing and you’ve got a quick and delicious dip.

Buffalo Chicken Dip
From “Y’all Come Over”
1 rotisserie chicken
1 cup red hot sauce
2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1 (16-ounce) bottle ranch dressing
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
Celery sticks for dipping
Chips for dipping

Directions: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9 X 13-inch baking dish. Shred the chicken, using two forks, and spread out in the baking dish. Cover with the hot sauce. Combine the cream cheese and ranch dressing in a medium saucepan. Place over low heat, stirring until hot and smooth. Pour over the chicken mixture. Bake for 15 minutes. Sprinkle with the Cheddar cheese and continue to bake for 10 to 15 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the chicken is bubbly. Serve with celery sticks or chips.

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