Louisiana Book News by Cheré Dastugue Coen

Published Sundays in The Daily Advertiser of Lafayette and Monroe News Star of Monroe.

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 mckinnie@ulm.edu or at 342-1552 or Arely Castillo at castillo@ulm.edu 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 http://lafayettepubliclibrary.org.

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 lafayettepubliclibrary.org.

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.

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.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Great new books to read for Black History Month

February is Black History Month and there are several wonderful new books to consider.
Sybil Haydel Morial discusses not only her marriage to former New Orleans Mayor Dutch Morial but her years of political activism and association with top African American leaders in her memoir “Witness to Change: From Jim Crow to Political Empowerment.”
Former Ambassador and Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young writes in the foreword, “It is doubtful that New Orleans could have produced two mayors with the dynamic, creative and visionary leadership of Dutch and Marc Morial without a wife and mother of Sybil’s loving strength, intelligence and moral courage. But the life she lived in the crucible times and her perception of the Civil Rights Movement in New Orleans go far beyond that.”
Global gender studies professor LaKisha Michelle Simmons examines black females in the segregated south in “Crescent City Girls: The Lives of Young Black Women in Segregated New Orleans.” Using oral histories, photography, newspaper articles, police reports and more, Simmons offers a window into the lives of women and girls who encountered an unequal environment and the sometimes violence of Jim Crow while being pressured to adhere to middle America standards for women.
George Washington Eames Jr. was shot in the back just for being a black man in a white neighborhood. Even though he lived the rest of his life in a wheelchair, he fought for civil rights and in support of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Kathy Andre-Eames tells her husband’s story in “Warrior for Justice: The George Eames Story,” published by Pelican Publishing of New Orleans with a foreword by former LSU coach Dale Brown.
            Mildred D. Taylor began a series of stories about the Logans, an African-American family living in Mississippi during the Great Depression, with the 1975 novella “Song of the Trees.” Her sequel, “Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry” won the 1977 Newbery Medal, followed by several more books. Penquin has published a 40th anniversary edition of “Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry” with new cover art by Caldecott Honor Award winner Kadir Nelson.

Book news
Tulane English professor and author Jesmyn Ward is one of two recipients of the Strauss Living Award for literary excellence, given every five years by the Academy of Arts and Letters. The author of three books, including the National Book Award winner for fiction “Salvage the Bones,” will receive $200,000 to devote two years to writing. Ward is also the author of the memoir, “Men We Reaped,” named one of the best books of 2013 by The New York Times Book Review.
Lisa Graley, a 1995 McNeese graduate and an assistant professor of English at UL Lafayette, is the co-winner of the 2015 Flannery O’Connor Award in Short Fiction sponsored by the University of Georgia Press. The award, named after Georgia writer Flannery O’Connor, is given annually to two outstanding collections of short fiction. Winners each receive $1,000 and their collections are published by the University of Georgia Press. Her collection of stories, “The Current That Carries,” will be published in the fall of 2016.
Dr. Bill Ferris will kick off the 2016 Natchez Literary and Cinema Celebration, Feb. 26-27, with his keynote address “The Mississippi River: Memory and Sense of Place.”

Book events
Sunil Yapa will sign copies of “Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of a Fist” at 6 p.m. Friday at Octavia Books in New Orleans.
Roberta Kaplan discusses her book “Then Comes Marriage: United States V. Windsor and the Defeat of DOMA” at 2 p.m. Saturday at Temple Sinai in New Orleans.
Dixie Poche will sign copies of “Classic Eateries of Cajun Country,” a nostalgic look at 40 of French-Louisiana’s old-time restaurants, bakeries and grocery stores from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at Books-A-Million in Baton Rouge.

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.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Teen Video Challenge now accepting entries

The State Library of Louisiana will again participate in the Collaborative Summer Library Program’s Teen Video Challenge, a national video competition encouraging teens to get involved with reading and their public libraries’ summer reading programs. Teenagers may enter the competition by creating a public service announcement that inspires others to read and visit libraries during the summer.
“The competition is a great opportunity for teens to exercise their creativity,” said State Librarian Rebecca Hamilton.
Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser added, “This year’s theme, ‘Get in the Game – Read,’ appeals to teens by combining recreation and literacy. We encourage all young people to get involved with their library, read a book, and inspire others to do the same.”
The winning video from each participating state will be announced in spring 2016 and used by public libraries nationally to promote summer reading. The creators of the winning state video will be awarded $150, and their associated public library will receive prizes worth $50 from the CSLP and Upstart. The deadline for video submission is April 1, 2016.
The CSLP is a grassroots consortium of public libraries and state library agencies throughout the United States, its territories and the Cayman Islands that works together to provide high-quality summer reading materials for libraries to use in their summer programs with children, teens, and adults.
            Rules and details for the challenge can be found on the State Library’s website, www.state.lib.la.us. For additional information, visit www.cslpreads.org/. Click Literacy and Reading, then Summer Reading Program, and scroll to Teen Video Challenge. The winning videos may be used by teens and public libraries to promote summer reading nationwide.

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.