Sunday, February 14, 2016

Literary happenings this week (Feb. 15-21) in Louisiana — so much going on, where to start?

            A group of free people of color emerged in New Orleans, the products of white French citizens and their mulatto mistresses. Many were educated in Europe but scorned in Louisiana, so they stuck together, calling themselves “Les Cenelles,” or the Hollyberries. In 1845, under the direction of Armand Lanusse, 17 Louisiana poets, all French-speaking free men of color of Les Cenelles, contributed to the first anthology of African American poetry in the United States. An original copy, one of five remaining, will be on exhibit at South Regional library for a limited time (don’t miss it!). And to complement the exhibit, a special event celebrating Louisiana’s French language poetry past and present will be held at 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 1, at South Regional. French immersion students will read original poems as well as selections from “Les Cenelles,” accompanied by Zachary Richard, Louisiana’s first French language poet laureate. 

New releases
Beverly Vidrine of Lafayette is an author of numerous children’s books that spotlight holidays using the alphabet. A good example — and one to get for the upcoming holiday — is “St. Patrick’s Day Alphabet.” I interviewed her a few years and she had told me how much she loved fly fishing and that one day she wanted to do a similar children’s book on the sport. I’m happy to report that Vidrine’s latest is “Hooked on Fly Fishing from A to Z,” a clever book that marries information about the sport with fun fishing facts and corresponding lures on each page. Beautifully illustrated by Matthew Tabbert, with art direction by Wayne Parmley, it’s a must for fishing enthusiasts. Vidrine will be selling her books at the Acadiana Fly Rodders Conclave from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 20, at Grace Presbyterian Church of Lafayette, where she’ll be tying flies as well.

University of Louisiana at Monroe
The ULM English program in the School of Humanities presents the series “Equality Across the Disciplines: Am I a Feminist?” There will be several free events including lectures, panel forums and multiple social activities, to discuss major issues, while outlining sexual health and promoting activism. English instructor Jaleesa Harris believes that “this series will allow students, who like me, share many feminist beliefs, but lacked the exposure and the creativity to explore what feminism truly means to them.”
In addition, English faculty and students have combined forces and coined the term “Fem-Hawks” to allow students to identify with one another without setting a base standard with gender, race and history. English instructor Meredith McKinnie said that “the goal is to break trends and bring awareness on societal norms that have altered our ways of thinking.”
This week, Dr. Mary Adams will discuss “Problems Faced by Women in the Developing World” at 2 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 16, in Walker Hall, Room 3-53. The screening of “Miss Representation” documentary will begin at 6 p.m. Thursday in Stubbs, Room 100.
On Feb. 23, Cyndi Rogers will present “It’s A Man’s World, Really? Advancement of Women in Leadership Roles” at 6 p.m. in the Library, Room 3-A.
The series concludes with performances of the “Vagina Monologues” at 7 p.m.  Feb. 25 in Stubbs, Room 100 and 6 p.m. Feb. 27 at Off-Campus (Upstairs Gallery).
Students, faculty, and the community are welcome to attend. For more information, contact Meredith McKinnie at or at 342-1552 or Arely Castillo at or at 342-1296.

Center for the Book
The Louisiana Center for the Book in the State Library of Louisiana hosts Dr. Everett D. Gibson at noon Tuesday in the State Library’s Seminar Center as part of Black History Month. He will discuss his book, “A Portrait of Southern University: History, Achievements, and Great Football Traditions,” which provides a history of Southern University, profiles of graduates and their families, and a description of the football program from its inception to present day. Also highlighted are the Bayou Classic and the Jaguar Nation including the Human Jukebox Marching 235 and the Dancing Dolls. Registration is not required for this free event. Attendees are invited to bring brown bag lunches and come and go as their schedules allow. Books will be available for purchase from the author.

Lafayette Reads
Lafayette Reads Together is exploring the book “Spare Parts: Four Undocumented Teenagers, One Ugly Robot,and the Battle for the American Dream” by Joshua Davis. 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. “Underwater Dreams” will be shown at 6 p.m. Thursday at East Regional Library in Lafayette, followed by a talk on the book at 6:45 p.m. For more information and to see a schedule of events and obtain a copy of the book, visit

Writes of Spring
The annual Writes of Spring contest is gearing up for K-12 students who reside in Lafayette Parish or in the surrounding parishes: St. Landry, Acadia, St. Martin, Vermilion, and Iberia. Students may submit original pieces of short fiction, nonfiction, drama (high school only) or poetry in English or French. The deadline is March 24. For full contest and submission details, visit

Book events
Robert S. Brantley, architectural photographer and author of “Henry Howard: Louisiana’s Architect” will discuss and sign copies of his book at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 16, at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Thibodaux. The event is free and open to the public.
            Local writer Ruth Foote will explain how what’s now known as the University of Louisiana at Lafayette became the first state-funded college in the South to accept African-American students at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 16, at South Regional Library in Lafayette.
David Plater will speak about and sign his book “The Butlers of Iberville Parish, Louisiana” from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 18, at the Lafourche Parish Library in Thibodaux.
RELATE to Origin, an open mic venue, will feature Kataalyst Alcindor at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 17, in the Plantation Suite in the Bollinger Memorial Student Union at Nicholl’s. RELATE is an open-mic for students, faculty and the public to share poetry, monologue, music or dance performances based on the evening’s chosen theme: Origin. Alcindor is a New Orleans poet whose work focuses on the people, culture and history of his native city. He’s a three-time National Poetry Slam Champion and has performed his work at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. as part of the NAACP Image Award-nominated show Lexus Verses & Flow.
            Benjamin F. Jones discusses “Eisenhower’s Guerrillas: The Jedburghs, the Maquis, and the Liberation of France” Wednesday, Feb. 17, at the World War II Museum in New Orleans. There will be a reception at 5 p.m., followed by the 6 p.m. presentation and the 7 p.m. booksigning. To RSVP for the free event, call (504) 528-1944, Ext. 412.