Sunday, February 5, 2017

Books that delve into word meanings, plus peek into Storyville, how to get published and book events this week

Two things happened recently that raised the issue of the literal use of words. One was feminism, in light of the recent women’s marches, and the other “tree-hugger,” both words that have been related to radicalism in recent times.

Algonquin Young Readers will publish at the end of the month a book about the former, offering a series of essays in a scrapbook-style book for teens titled “Here We Are: 44 Voices Write, Draw and Speak About Feminism for the Read World,” edited by Kelly Jensen. The book contains thoughts by pop culture celebrities as well as authors detailing what the word feminism means in the 21st century. The book also explains the word’s origins, dating back to 19th century France, when French socialist Charles Fourier used it to describe “the emancipation of women he envisioned for his utopian future.”

It’s always been simple to me. Feminism means equality between men and women. But the complications of what that means resonates in this book, moving from love of self and other girls who are different to how involved a girl wants to be in pushing for those rights.

At a recent gathering of like-minded nature lovers, a person differentiated between us and “tree-huggers,” those radical environmentalists who fight for the earth’s preservation. I adore trees so I happily call myself a tree hugger so it made me cringe to hear it used that way. Taken literally, what’s wrong with hugging a tree?

Which brings me to an adorable children’s book that crossed my desk, “The Tree: A Fable” by Neal Layton. A young couple — the mother expecting — arrive at their newly purchased property with plans to build a grand house. There’s a tree in the center of the property, one that contains a variety of animals. When the couple attempts to cut the tree down, the animals flee and the birds nest breaks.

The couple’s heart is broken seeing what they have done so they change their plans and build the house in harmony with the tree. In the process, the nests are sturdier, there’s a shelter for the rabbit’s burrow and everyone ends up with “a happy home.”

Some words get shaped by politics. And sometimes, authors bring them back to their origins in beautiful ways.

Getting published
Have you dreamed about getting published? I have, since I was a little kid. Over my lifetime (I won’t comment how long that is) I have been traditionally published in fiction and non-fiction, have self-published family history books and am now venturing into digital publishing as what people call a “hybrid indie author.” I will share my experiences Saturday in an afternoon workshop titled “So You Want to Get Published” at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s Continuing Education, detailing the many opportunities available to writers these days. And there are many! To register, visit keeplearning.louisiana.edu or call (337) 482-6386.

Peek into Storyville
Pamela D. Arceneaux, senior librarian and rare books curator at the Historic New Orleans Collection, will discuss and sign “Guidebooks to Sin: The Blue Books of Storyville, New Orleans” from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Friday at the Queen Anne Ballroom of the Hotel Monteleone in New Orleans. She will also sign the book at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Octavia Books and 6 p.m. Thursday at Maple Street Book Shop, both in New Orleans.

The book release event at the Monteleone Hotel is a prelude to the Collection’s 22nd annual Williams Research Center Symposium titled “Storyville and Jazz, 1917: An End and a Beginning” that will be held Saturday at the Monteleone. Symposium presenters include Bruce Boyd Raeburn, director of special collections and curator of the Hogan Jazz Archives at Tulane; David Sager, National Jukebox Curator at the Library of Congress; and Dr. Michael White, jazz musician, historian and Keller Endowed Chair in the Humanities at Xavier University. Arceneaux’s book contains information from the rare “blue books,” directories of madams and prostitutes of the Storyville red light district of New Orleans. The books also include advertisements for liquor, brothels and other goods and services available in Storyville at the turn of the 20th century. The book includes a foreword by Emily Epstein Landau.

At the library
The Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana will present “Restoration on the Half Shell: Presentations in Non-Technical Language” at different regions of South Louisiana, tailored to individuals who are interested in learning more about how Louisiana plans on dealing with state land loss. The road show will be 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday at the Vermilion Parish Library in Abbeville, and includes an optional field trip. Additional programs will be Feb 15 at the Lafitte Multipurpose Center in Lafitte, March 2 at the Cameron Parish School Board Conference Center and March 16 at the Big Branch Marsh National Wildlife Refuge in Lacombe. Space is limited, so registration is required; visit http://www.crcl.org/.

Book events for the week Feb. 5-12
Open Mic Night begins at 6 p.m. Tuesday at CC’s Coffee House, 2350 Tower Drive in Monroe. Come perform original poetry, short stories or songs, or just relax and listen to local artists.

John R. Kemp discusses and signs his “Expressions of Place: The Contemporary Louisiana Landscape” at 6 p.m. Wednesday at the Paul and Lulu Hilliard University Art Museum of Lafayette. Hilliard Museum curator Laura Blereau will engage Kemp in discussion about the visual research in his latest book project.

Carl A. Brasseaux and Donald W. Davis sign their latest book, “Ain’t There No More: Louisiana’s Disappearing Coastal Plain” at 6 p.m. Thursday at Octavia Books of New Orleans. Brasseaux is the former director of the Center for Louisiana Studies and the author of more than three dozen books and more than 100 scholarly articles, including “Acadian to Cajun: Transformation of a People, 1803–1877” and “Creoles of Color in the Bayou Country.” He is a former Louisiana Writer of the Year. Davis has been involved in coastal-related research for more than 40 years. His work has appeared in numerous journals including Shore & Beach,  Louisiana Conservationists and Louisiana History.

Author Lisa Carey signs “The Stolen Child” in conversation with Tom Piazza at 6 p.m. Thursday at Garden District Book Shop of New Orleans. Carey is the author of “The Mermaids Singing,” “In the Country of the Young” and “Love in the Asylum.” She lived in Ireland for five years and now resides in Portland, Maine.

Big Chief Zydeco Mike and guests will discuss the history and art of masking in “Lafayette Mardi Gras Indians” from 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Saturday at the Main Library Story Castle in downtown Lafayette. Children will have a chance to create their own beaded and feathered creation.

Brian Costello signs “Carnival in Louisiana: Celebrating Mardi Gras from the French Quarter to the Red River” at 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 12, at Garden District Book Shop of New Orleans.

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