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On Sept. 14, 2019, downtown Lafayette will once again be overrun with poets and various artists from central and south Louisiana. Word Crawl brings together a diverse group of literature lovers and creative enthusiasts, winding down Jefferson Avenue and into the many venues, from cafes to museums to bars.  

Word Crawl invites poets, fiction and nonfiction writers, spoken word artists, playwrights, storytellers and songwriters to participate, perform and help in fundraising efforts for the crawl’s beneficiary, the literary Festival of Words in November which brings established authors for public readings and writing workshops in community centers and public school classrooms. Word Crawl helps raise funds to ensure the continued expansion and success of these programs. Last year’s fundraiser rallied in more than 50 artists!

Word Crawl includes different portions: Daytime hours welcome all ages; evening hours may include adult material, and there is even a portion for Francophone writers.  

The Word Crawl fundraiser takes place from noon to midnight Saturday, Sept. 14, 2019.  

If you would like to share your own stories, poems and other creative efforts, you can pick up a packet by contacting Patrice Melnick at 337-254-9695 or by emailing festivalwords@gmail.com; Marie Touchet aziesbusiness@gmail.com. You can also download a packet at festivalofwords.org





Louisiana Book News is written by award-winning author Chere Dastugue Coen, who writes Louisiana romances and mysteries under the pen name of Cherie Claire. Her first book in each series is FREE to download as an ebook, including "Emilie," book one of The Cajun Series, "Ticket to Paradise," book one of The Cajun Embassy series and "A Ghost of a Chance," the first Viola Valentine mystery.


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Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden today announced the appointment of Joy Harjo as the nation’s 23rd Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry for 2019-2020. Harjo will take up her duties in the fall, opening the Library’s annual literary season on Sept. 19 with a reading of her work in the Coolidge Auditorium.

Harjo is the first Native American poet to serve in the position – she is an enrolled member of the Muscogee Creek Nation. She succeeds Tracy K. Smith, who served two terms as laureate.

“Joy Harjo has championed the art of poetry – ‘soul talk’ as she calls it – for over four decades,” Hayden said in a press release. “To her, poems are ‘carriers of dreams, knowledge and wisdom,’ and through them she tells an American story of tradition and loss, reckoning and myth-making. Her work powerfully connects us to the earth and the spiritual world with direct, inventive lyricism that helps us reimagine who we are.”

Harjo currently lives in her hometown of Tulsa, Oklahoma, and is the nation’s first Poet Laureate from Oklahoma.  

“What a tremendous honor it is to be named the U.S. Poet Laureate,” Harjo said. “I share this honor with ancestors and teachers who inspired in me a love of poetry, who taught that words are powerful and can make change when understanding appears impossible, and how time and timelessness can live together within a poem. I count among these ancestors and teachers my Muscogee Creek people, the librarians who opened so many doors for all of us, and the original poets of the indigenous tribal nations of these lands, who were joined by diverse peoples from nations all over the world to make this country and this country’s poetry.”

Harjo joins a long line of distinguished poets who have served in the position, including Juan Felipe Herrera, Charles Wright, Natasha Trethewey, Philip Levine, W.S. Merwin, Kay Ryan, Charles Simic, Donald Hall, Ted Kooser, Louise Glück, Billy Collins, Stanley Kunitz, Robert Pinsky, Robert Hass and Rita Dove.

Harjo was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on May 9, 1951, and is the author of eight books of poetry – including “Conflict Resolution for Holy Beings” (W. W. Norton, 2015); “The Woman Who Fell From the Sky” (W. W. Norton, 1994), which received the Oklahoma Book Arts Award; and “In Mad Love and War” (Wesleyan University Press, 1990), which received an American Book Award and the Delmore Schwartz Memorial Award. Her next book of poems, “An American Sunrise,” will be published by W. W. Norton in fall 2019. Harjo has also written a memoir, “Crazy Brave” (W. W. Norton, 2012), which won the 2013 PEN Center USA literary prize for creative nonfiction, as well as a children’s book, “The Good Luck Cat” (Harcourt, Brace 2000) and a young adult book, “For a Girl Becoming” (University of Arizona Press, 2009). 

As a performer, Harjo has appeared on HBO’s “Def Poetry Jam” and in venues across the U.S. and internationally. In addition to her poetry, Harjo is a musician. She plays saxophone with her band, the Arrow Dynamics Band, and previously with Poetic Justice, and has released four award-winning CDs of original music. In 2009, she won a Native American Music Award (NAMMY) for Best Female Artist of the Year. 

Harjo’s many literary awards include the PEN Open Book Award, the American Indian Distinguished Achievement in the Arts Award, the New Mexico Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts and the Arrell Gibson Lifetime Achievement Award from the Oklahoma Center for the Book. Harjo has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Witter Bynner Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Her collection “How We Become Human: New and Selected Poems 1975-2001” (W. W. Norton, 2002) was selected by the National Endowment for the Arts for its Big Read program. Her recent honors include the Jackson Prize from Poets & Writers (2019), the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize from the Poetry Foundation (2017) and the Wallace Stevens Award from the Academy of American Poets (2015). In 2019, she was elected a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets.

Harjo has taught at UCLA and was until recently a professor and chair of excellence at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. She has returned to her hometown where she holds a Tulsa Artist Fellowship. 





Louisiana Book News is written by award-winning author Chere Dastugue Coen, who writes Louisiana romances and mysteries under the pen name of Cherie Claire. Her first book in each series is FREE to download as an ebook, including "Emilie," book one of The Cajun Series, "Ticket to Paradise," book one of The Cajun Embassy series and "A Ghost of a Chance," the first Viola Valentine mystery.

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One Book One New Orleans (OBONO) will host Juleps in June from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday, June 28, at the home of Honorary Chair Leah N. Engelhardt.

"This year, One Book One New Orleans is taking a deeper look at how the arts can contribute to social justice," wrote OBONO Executive Director Dr. Megan Holt in a press release.  "Our Juleps in June honorees, photographers and activists Keith Calhoun and Chandra McCormick, embody this mission."

Both born in the Ninth Ward, Calhoun and McCormick have documented the soul of New Orleans and a vanishing Louisiana: the last of the sugar cane workers, the dockworkers, the sweet potato harvesters, and the displacement of African Americans after Katrina. They photograph the traditions of black church services and religious rituals; community rites and celebrations such as parades and jazz funerals; and the cruel conditions of the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola.

Calhoun and McCormick will be signing their new book, “Louisiana Medley,” at Juleps in June, an event aimed at raising awareness and resources for members of the community who lack access to books. Ticket sales benefit OBONO's literacy outreach efforts and its annual festival, Words and Music.

Guests will enjoy desserts from the Cupcake Collection, empanadas from Empanola, a Jazz Trio from the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra, and more. Guests will be automatically entered for door prizes, and there will also be a prize for the best hat. Of course, the mint juleps will be flowing.





Louisiana Book News is written by award-winning author Chere Dastugue Coen, who writes Louisiana romances and mysteries under the pen name of Cherie Claire. Her first book in each series is FREE to download as an ebook, including "Emilie," book one of The Cajun Series, "Ticket to Paradise," book one of The Cajun Embassy series and "A Ghost of a Chance," the first Viola Valentine mystery.

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Mystery writers Candice Proctor and Michael Allen Zell will discuss their latest novels at 7 p.m. Wednesday, May 29, at the East Bank Regional Library, 4747 W. Napoleon, Metairie.

Candice Proctor, “Who Slays the Wicked” (Sebastian St. Cyr Mystery Book 14)
When the handsome but dissolute young gentleman Lord Ashworth is found murdered, Sebastian St. Cyr, Viscount Devlin, is called in by Bow Street Magistrate Sir Henry Lovejoy to help catch the killer. Just seven months before, Sebastian had suspected Ashworth of aiding one of his longtime friends and companions in the kidnapping and murder of a string of vulnerable street children. But Sebastian was never able to prove Ashworth's complicity. Nor was he able to prevent his troubled, headstrong young niece Stephanie from entering into a disastrous marriage with the dangerous nobleman.

Candice Proctor worked as an archaeologist and earned a doctoral degree in European history. She writes the Sebastian St. Cyr historical mystery series as C.S. Harris and historical novels under her own name, Candice Proctor. Married to retired Army Colonel Steve Harris, she lives in New Orleans.

Michael Allen Zell, “City Krystal Soulman”
Musician Rodney "Soulman" Mercadel sets up a pyramid scheme with three pastors to sell seats on a non-existent ark for hurricane season. Vonetta (nicknamed Krystal), the sister of Ellis Smith, Bobby Delery's girlfriend, has gone missing. And New Orleans is a character in its own right. From the Ninth Ward to New Orleans East, from the French Quarter to Frenchmen Street, Delery figures out how it all fits together.

Michael Allen Zell is a New Orleans-based novelist, essayist, and playwright. Zell's work has been published in The Los Angeles Review of Booksand elsewhere. "Errata," his first novel, was named a Top 10 Book of 2012 by The New Orleans Times-Picayune. His first play, "What Do You Say To A Shadow?," was named a Top 10 Play of the Year in 2013 by The New Orleans Times-Picayune.




Louisiana Book News is written by award-winning author Chere Dastugue Coen, who writes Louisiana romances and mysteries under the pen name of Cherie Claire. Her first book in each series is FREE to download as an ebook, including "Emilie," book one of The Cajun Series, "Ticket to Paradise," book one of The Cajun Embassy series and "A Ghost of a Chance," the first Viola Valentine mystery.


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The Festival of Words hosts a performance with poet Darrell Bourque who will read poetry from his new book “From the Other Side: Henriette Delille” at 7 p.m. Wednesday, May 29, at Chicory’s Coffee and Café of Grand Coteau.  Also featured will be Sister Theresa Sue Joseph who will discuss her path to joining the Sisters of the Holy Family.
Bourque

Guests are welcome to bring their own poems, songs or stories for the open mic. This free, community event is suitable for all ages. 

Bourque is professor emeritus in English (University of Louisiana Lafayette) and former Louisiana Poet Laureate. His latest books include “In Ordinary Light, Conversations in Verse” (with Jack B. Bedell), “Where I Waited” and “Megan’s Guitar and Other Poems from Acadie.” “From the Other Side: Henriette Delille” (Yellow Flag Press) is a series of sonnets set to paintings by Shreveport abstract expressionist painter Bill Gingles. It is a portrait of poems of Venerable Mother Henriette Delille told from her disembodied voice from “the other side” telling of her life and times as a social activist and spiritual leader and guide to the underserved and underprivileged in 19th century New Orleans. Migrare, a sequence of ghazals on the theme of immigration, will be released later this year by UL Press at the Center of Louisiana Studies. Bourque is the recipient of the 2019 Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities 2019 Humanist of the Year Award.

Joseph has lived a consecrated life for the past 50 years. Born in Opelousas, and growing up on a farm, she was the eighth of 12 children. She attended Christ the King Elementary School in Bellevue and St. Peter Claver High School in Grand Coteau, both run by the Sisters of the Holy Family. After moving to Houston and becoming a member of Our Mercy of Mercy Catholic Church, Sister Joseph entered the Congregation of the Sisters of the Holy Family. Having served God mostly in elementary education for more than 35 years, she has worked in pastoral and prison ministries, serving as vocation director. Presently, Sister Joseph is Secretary-General for her community.


Louisiana Book News is written by award-winning author Chere Dastugue Coen, who writes Louisiana romances and mysteries under the pen name of Cherie Claire. Her first book in each series is FREE to download as an ebook, including "Emilie," book one of The Cajun Series, "Ticket to Paradise," book one of The Cajun Embassy series and "A Ghost of a Chance," the first Viola Valentine mystery.


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USA Today best-selling author Beverly Jenkins heads to New Orleans in a new series that follows northern African American women living in the South in the chaotic aftermath of the Civil War. 

In her latest novel "Rebel," part of the series "Women Who Dare," Valinda Lacey teaches the newly emancipated people of New Orleans only to face thugs wanting to destroy her school — and her. 

Captain Drake Leveq, an architect from an old New Orleans family, wishes to help rebuild the city. He admires Lacey’s determination. When Lacey’s father demands she return home to marry a man she doesn’t love, her rebellion draws LeVeq into an irresistible intrigue.

The book goes on sale May 28.


Louisiana Book News is written by award-winning author Chere Dastugue Coen, who writes Louisiana romances and mysteries under the pen name of Cherie Claire. Her first book in each series is FREE to download as an ebook, including "Emilie," book one of The Cajun Series, "Ticket to Paradise," book one of The Cajun Embassy series and "A Ghost of a Chance," the first Viola Valentine mystery.

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The Louisiana Center for the Book in the State Library of Louisiana announced the 2019 Louisiana winners of the annual Letters About Literature contest. This year, 242 fourth- through 12th-grade Louisiana students wrote personal letters to authors, living or dead, to explain how their work changed the students’ way of thinking about the world or themselves. The winners of the competition represent cities from Ruston to New Orleans and were inspired by works ranging from fiction to nonfiction, science fiction to realism, and including books by a former president and a Nobel Peace Prize recipient.

Winning students receive $100 for first place, $75 for second place and $50 for third place, and they will be recognized at the Louisiana Book Festival on Saturday, Nov. 2, 2019, in Baton Rouge, with the first-place winners reading their letters there. Louisiana’s first-place winners’ entries have been submitted to the Library of Congress for the national competition.

The winners of Louisiana’s 2018-2019 Letters About Literature contest are: 

Level I (grades 4 – 6) 
1st Place: Annika Roberson, Trinity Episcopal School, New Orleans
2nd Place: Kelon George, Prairie Elementary School, Lafayette

Level II (grades 7 – 8) 
1st Place: Phoenix Chapital, Lusher Charter School, New Orleans
2nd Place: Magnolia Charlet, Northwestern Middle School, Zachary
3rd Place: Lauren Poole, Winfield Middle School, Winnfield

Honorable Mention: Rain Monroe, Lusher Charter School, New Orleans
Level III (grades 9 – 12) 
1st Place: Donovan Turpin, Cedar Creek School, Ruston
2nd Place: Marie Foret, Ursuline Academy, New Orleans
3rd Place: Lauren Shirley, Cedar Creek School, Ruston
Honorable Mention: Zachary Nichols, St. Paul’s School, Covington

To read the winners’ letters and see the names of all the state finalists and their teachers and schools, visit www.state.lib.la.us
For a direct link to winning letters and complete list of finalists, click here

The 2018-2019 Letters About Literature contest for young readers is made possible by a generous grant from the Dollar General Literacy Foundation, with additional support from gifts to the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress, which promotes the contest through its affiliate Centers for the Book, state libraries and other organizations. Funding for prizes is provided by the grant.
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"Pan Am Flight 759," a new documentary by filmmaker Royd Anderson, will be screened at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, May 23, at the East Bank Regional Library, 4747 W. Napoleon, Metairie. The free screening is part of the regularly scheduled meeting of the Jefferson Parish Historical Society. The filmmaker will be present at the screenings.

Pan Am Flight 759 crashed less than one minute after it took off on a stormy afternoon from New Orleans International Airport on July 9, 1982, killing all 146 people on board and eight people on the ground. The Boeing 727 jet plowed into south Kenner’s Morningside Park neighborhood. At the time, it was the nation’s second-deadliest crash.

Pan Am 759 was a regularly scheduled passenger flight from Miami to Las Vegas, with a stop in New Orleans. At the time of Flight 759's takeoff on July 9, 1982, there were thunderstorms over the east end of the airport. Microburst wind shear caused by that afternoon's powerful thunderstorm was blamed for the catastrophe, with the plane rapidly losing altitude almost immediately after taking off. The crash helped spur the development of sophisticated equipment incorporating Doppler radar to detect wind shear.

Royd Anderson specializes in documentary films pertaining to tragic events in Louisiana that he says are overlooked by historians. In 2006, Anderson wrote and directed the documentary The Luling Ferry Disaster for his master's degree thesis project in communication at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. The film recounts the story of the worst ferry disaster in U.S. history in which 77 lives were lost.




Louisiana Book News is written by award-winning author Chere Dastugue Coen, who writes Louisiana romances and mysteries under the pen name of Cherie Claire. Her first book in each series is FREE to download as an ebook, including "Emilie," book one of The Cajun Series, "Ticket to Paradise," book one of The Cajun Embassy series and "A Ghost of a Chance," the first Viola Valentine mystery.


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Last year, budget cuts eliminated this column from the Gannett newspapers in Lafayette and Monroe but the blog continues! I’ve been amazed at the continued support from readers, authors and librarians and I thank you wholeheartedly.

However, because I must fill that financial gap left behind by the loss of newspaper income, I’ve not reviewed books as much as in the past. But that doesn’t mean I’m not interested in sharing the great news from Louisiana authors and authors writing about Louisiana. For those of you who have sent me books, thank you and I promise to get the word out. For those of you who wish to have your book mentioned in this column, please send information to cherecoen@gmail.com.

Here are a few new children's books to consider this spring:

Children’s books
Lenore Weiss, who once lived in Louisiana and is now enrolled in the MFA program at San Francisco State, has just released “The Glimmerine,” an urban environmental fantasy for middle-grade readers. The heroine is 10-year-old Leah who has been labeled the school weirdo because she talks to something hidden inside her backpack. But Leah doesn’t care how much she’s teased. She has other friends.

You can read more about the book and purchase either an ebook or paperback at Amazon.

Kimberly Willis Holt, National Book Award-winning author of “My Louisiana Sky” and a writer with ties to Louisiana, has a new chapter book for ages 8-14. 

“The Lost Boy’s Gift” follows nine-year-old Daniel who moves across the country after his parents’ divorce. Despite his sadness for leaving behind friends, his new home on While-A-Way Lane provides him with fun adventures with Lemonade Girl, a hopscotching mailman and Tilda Butter, who helps Daniel find his way.

Read more about the author and her books here.



Louisiana Book News is written by award-winning author Chere Dastugue Coen, who writes Louisiana romances and mysteries under the pen name of Cherie Claire. Her first book in each series is FREE to download as an ebook, including "Emilie," book one of The Cajun Series, "Ticket to Paradise," book one of The Cajun Embassy series and "A Ghost of a Chance," the first Viola Valentine mystery.
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If you missed watching the intriguing story of famed author Harper Lee’s desire to write a true crime novel at CBS’ “Sunday Morning” on April 28, 2019, it’s all based on a new book by Casey Cep. And the author will be visiting New Orleans this week, discussing and signing books from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, May 12, at Garden District Book Shop.

Here’s the book’s description:
The Rev. Willie Maxwell was a rural Alabama preacher accused of murdering five of his family members for insurance money in the 1970s. With the help of a savvy lawyer, he escaped justice for years until a relative shot him dead at the funeral of his last victim. 

Despite hundreds of witnesses, Maxwell's murderer was acquitted — thanks to the same attorney who had previously defended the Reverend. Sitting in the audience during the vigilante's trial was Harper Lee, who had traveled from New York City to her native Alabama with the idea of writing her own “In Cold Blood,” the true-crime classic she had helped her friend Truman Capote research 17 years earlier. Lee spent a year in town reporting, and many more years working on her own version of the case.

Now Casey Cep brings this story to life, from the shocking murders to the courtroom drama to the racial politics of the Deep South. At the same time, she offers a deeply moving portrait of one of the country's most beloved writers and her struggle with fame, success, and the mystery of artistic creativity.

If you want to learn more, be sure and watch the "Sunday Morning" episode by clicking here.





Louisiana Book News is written by award-winning author Chere Dastugue Coen, who writes Louisiana romances and mysteries under the pen name of Cherie Claire. Her first book in each series is FREE to download as an ebook, including "Emilie," book one of The Cajun Series, "Ticket to Paradise," book one of The Cajun Embassy series and "A Ghost of a Chance," the first Viola Valentine mystery.


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