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LOUISIANA POETS TO CELEBRATE 25TH NATIONAL POETRY MONTH VIRTUALLY

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Louisiana Center for the Book presents two programs to celebrate National Poetry Month

BATON ROUGE, La. – The Louisiana Center for the Book in the State Library of Louisiana will celebrate the 25th annual National Poetry Month with a virtual edition of its “Just Listen to Yourself: Louisiana’s Poet Laureate Presents Louisiana Poets” and an additional event to celebrate the past decade of this series.

Louisiana Poet Laureate John Warner Smith will host the eleventh annual program with six poets from across the state invited by Smith to read their work. They include David Armand, Kelly Harris-DeBerry, William J. Jefferson, Dorie LaRue, Patrice Melnick, and Thomas Parrie. The presentation will be recorded and accessible on YouTubeand Facebookon Tuesday, April 20, beginning at 12:00 p.m.

A lagniappe event, “Just Listen to Yourself: A Retrospective,” will feature Darrell Bourque, the Louisiana Poet Laureate who originated the program in 2011, hosting readings by all of the poets who have served as the state’s poet laureates and hosted this annual event since its inception. They include, in chronological order, Julie Kane, Ava Leavell Haymon, Peter Cooley, Jack Bedell, and John Warner Smith. This recorded presentation will be accessible on YouTube and Facebook on Tuesday, April 27, beginning at 12:00 p.m.

“With the pandemic still making convening for programs in person difficult,” said Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser. “I am excited the State Library of Louisiana has created opportunities again this year for Louisiana poets to be heard through these alternative virtual presentations.”

“The State Library of Louisiana is proud that it is able to participate in National Poetry Month again this year and to look back fondly at the previous decade of ‘Just Listen’ events,” said State Librarian Rebecca Hamilton. “During those years 58 poets have appeared as panelists with the six poet laureate hosts, some multiple times. I am gratified that we have been able to offer this program without pause, now for the eleventh time, including four additional individuals who have not previously participated. Each year it is so rewarding for us to celebrate Louisiana’s literary talent by hearing the voices of poets from throughout the state. I am particularly proud of all our staff behind the scenes who have made this and other virtual programs possible, which allows us to reach more Louisianans than ever before.”

For a listing of all the participating poets who have contributed to the “Just Listen to Yourself” series, see below.

The Louisiana Center for the Book, established in the State Library of Louisiana in 1994 for the purpose of stimulating public interest in reading, books, and libraries and celebrating Louisiana’s rich literary heritage, is the state affiliate of the Library of Congress Center for the Book.

Just Listen to Yourself
The Louisiana Poet Laureate Presents Louisiana Poets
Participants
2011 - 2020

All Panelists:

​(in alphabetical order)

Liz Adair

Ralph Adamo

Nordette Adams

Caroline Ancelet

Jack Bedell

Katie Bickham

Darrell Bourque

Mary Katherine Brake

Marilyn Burel

Kelly Clayton

Carlos Colón

Peter Cooley

Sidney Creaghan

Dorothy Early Davis

Charles deGravelles

Malaika Favorite

Gina Ferrara

Amy Fleury

Charles Garrett

John Gery

Lara Glenum

Christopher Hannan

Kelly Harris

Ashley Mace Havird

David Havird

Ava Leavell Haymon

Clemonce Heard

Carolyn Hembree

Kirby Jambon

Charles Jolivette

Julie Kane

Elizabeth King

Justin Lamb

Dorie LaRue

Madeleine LeCesne

Clare Martin

Bonny McDonald

David Middleton

Laura Mullen

Biljana Obradovic

Melinda Palacio

Andrea Panzeca

Alison Pelegrin

Michelle Pichon

Jennifer Reeser

Brad Richard

Donney Rose

Leigh Camacho Rourks

Mona Lisa Saloy

Chancelier “Xero” Skidmore

Genaro Kỳ Lý Smith

John Warner Smith

Jay Udall

Lenore Weiss

Kelly West

Gail White

Afton Wilky

Andy Young

Hosts:

(in chronological order)

Darrell Bourque

Julie Kane

Ava Leavell Haymon

Peter Cooley

Jack Bedell

John Warner Smith


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Contact:
Rebecca Hamilton
State Library of Louisiana
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Barry Landry
Department of Cultur, Recreation & Tourism
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BLACK HISTORY MONTH PROGRAM TO FOCUS ON OSCAR DUNN: LOUISIANA’S FIRST BLACK LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR

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BLACK HISTORY MONTH PROGRAM TO FOCUS ON OSCAR DUNN:

LOUISIANA’S FIRST BLACK LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR

Louisiana Center for the Book Presents Annual Black History Month Program

                                                                               

BATON ROUGE, La. – The Louisiana Center for the Book in the State Library of Louisiana, in partnership with The Historic New Orleans Collection, will celebrate Black History Month with a virtual presentation, “A Monumental Task: How Brian K. Mitchell Unearthed the Story of His Famous Ancestor Oscar Dunn, America’s First Black Lieutenant Governor.” The pre-recorded presentation will be available on YouTube and Facebook on Wednesday, February 24, 2021, beginning at 12:00 p.m.

 

Brian K. Mitchell, the author of Monumental: Oscar Dunn’s Radical Fight in Reconstruction Louisiana, and The Historic New Orleans Collection’s Nick Weldon, the book’s editor, discuss the origins of the project and Mitchell’s personal connection to Dunn. Mitchell and Weldon will discuss the book further at THNOC’s 2021 symposium, “Recovered Voices: Black Activism in New Orleans from Reconstruction to the Present Day” March 5–7.

 

Monumental: Oscar Dunn and His Radical Fight in Reconstruction Louisiana reveals in graphic-novel format the incredible life story of Louisiana’s—and America’s—first Black lieutenant governor and acting governor. The book is the culmination of decades of research by one of Dunn’s own descendants, the author himself, who, with illustrator Barrington S. Edwards and editing by Weldon, brings to light an essential piece of American history buried for far too long.

 

“This partnership between the State Library and THNOC gives Louisianans and others the opportunity to learn of my predecessor’s rise from being born enslaved and emancipated at a young age to becoming Louisiana’s first Black lieutenant governor,” said Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser.

 

“Not only is Dunn’s journey remarkable, but so is Mitchell’s perseverance,” noted State Librarian Rebecca Hamilton. “After learning about his famous relative from his great-grandmother as a child, he was embarrassed in class when his second-grade teacher refuted his claim that Dunn served as Louisiana’s lieutenant governor. Yet Mitchell went on to pursue a career in history and made Dunn the subject of his University of New Orleans dissertation, which formed the foundation of the outstanding Monumental.”

 

Monumental will be published by THNOC on March 5 and is available for preorder now from The Historic New Orleans Collection or Cavalier House Books, the Louisiana Book Festival’s bookseller.


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Contact:
Rebecca Hamilton
State Library of Louisiana
225-342-4923
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Ashley Gordon
Office of the Lieutenant Governor
225-342-7009
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LITERATURE LIVE AROUND THE WORLD

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Louisiana Book Festival to co-sponsor; see Bay Area Book Festival press release below:

Bay Area Book Festival logo
“Literature Live Around the World” Free Virtual ‘World Tour’
Featuring Top Authors from 12 Countries Including the U.S. – February 12-22, 2021
Unprecedented international literary collaboration combats isolation amid global lockdown
 
February 3, 2021 | Berkeley, CA – In a time of isolation across the globe, “Literature Live Around the World” (LLAW) brings together literary festivals from 12 nations from the United States to India, Norway to Nigeria, Argentina to Jamaica and more in a 12-hour program that runs live on February 12.  Each festival offers a one-hour segment introducing that region’s literary scene and some of its most interesting authors, allowing viewers to take a whirlwind virtual journey around the world through contemporary literature. 
 
Organized and produced by LitFestBergen (Norway), the free program will air in its entirety on NRK Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation and will livestream on all partner websites. Within 24 hours of the live program, an edited, chaptered recording will be available for free on selected partner sites, including that of the Bay Area Book Festival (BABF) in Berkeley, California, www.baybookfest.org, through February 22. The Louisiana Book Festival, presented by the Louisiana Center for the Book, State Library of Louisiana, is a co-sponsor and local partner.
 
BABF will represent the United States with a program featuring authors Dave Eggers and Vendela Vida, moderator Daniel Gumbiner, and BABF founder/director and host Cherilyn Parsons. Viewers from around the world will be able to submit questions live. 
 
LitFestBergen will open the program with Norway’s segment featuring Karl Ove Knausgård, among other authors. The 10 other festivals, besides LitFest Bergen and BABF, are in Buenos Aires, Argentina; Dubai, UAE; Edinburgh, Scotland; Jaipur, India; Kabul, Afghanistan; Lagos, Nigeria; Lyon, France; Perth, Australia; Toronto, Canada; and Treasure Beach, Jamaica. (Listing of festival names appears below.)
 
For the full schedule with program descriptions, featured authors, and live viewing times, visit www.baybookfest.org/bergen2021. Viewers can watch the edited, chaptered recording with this same link through February 22.  
 
Each hour will be opened by NRK hosts Siss Vik and Mona B. Riise, who will announce the country that viewers now will “visit.” A short video, provided by the relevant festival, will introduce viewers to that region and its literary scene. Watch BABF’s video about the Bay Area here: youtu.be/4iMC1svQrH4. Vik and Riise will converse with that festival’s director, who will introduce the authors and mention the co-sponsoring festivals. Each nation’s presentation is quite different, making for a dynamic overall world tour of literary creativity.
 
Cherilyn Parsons, BABF’s founder and executive director, notes, “Who says you can’t travel the world during COVID lockdown?" This program is incredibly timely. Our world is more interconnected than ever, and yet we can’t cross each other’s borders. LLAW leaps those borders, showcases the diversity of world culture, and exhibits values of global cooperation, all through the power of literature. Through this unprecedented program, viewers can explore twelve fascinating nations through the lens of each region’s top authors – truly unique, insightful perspectives that provide a ‘travel experience’ that even in-person, on-the-ground visits rarely attain. These authors and their hosts will take us far beyond the usual tourist sights and clichés about each region. We are beyond thrilled to represent the United States.”
 
Cherilyn Parsons, as well as LitFestBergen’s director Teresa Grøtan, are available for interviews.
 
Key links:
Full schedule, authors, best platform for U.S. viewers: https://www.baybookfest.org/bergen2021/schedule/
Graphics (LLAW, BABF, author photos) and other resources:  https://www.baybookfest.org/llaw-press-room/
Bay Area Book Festival: www.baybookfest.org
Louisiana Book Festival: http://louisianabookfestival.org/ 
LitFestBergen: www.litfestbergen.no/en/
 
Full list of participating festivals:
Bergen International Literary Festival (LitFestBergen); Bay Area Book Festival, Berkeley, USA; Writing Western Australia, Perth; Writer's House, Kabul; Jaipur Literary Festival, India; Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, UAE; Aké Arts and Book Festival, Lagos, Nigeria; Festival Internacional de Literatura de Buenos Aires, Argentina; Edinburgh International Book Festival, Scotland/UK; Assises internationales du roman, Lyon, France; Toronto International Festival of Authors, Canada; Calabash Festival, Jamaica.

Media Contacts:
Julia Drake | This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Bradley Jones | This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 
 
 

JOHN M. BARRY TO RECEIVE 21ST LOUISIANA WRITER AWARD

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BATON ROUGE, La. – The Louisiana Center for the Book in the State Library of Louisiana is proud to announce John M. Barry has been selected as the recipient of the 21st annual Louisiana Writer Award in recognition of his outstanding contribution to Louisiana’s history and coastal restoration.

“The contributions of Mr. Barry to literature, history, government, and the education of Louisianans and citizens across the country have been nothing short of remarkable. We are pleased and also fortunate that he chose to make his home in Louisiana,” said Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser.

Barry is the author of many books, most notably The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History and Rising Tide: The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 and How It Changed America. These particular works led to Barry’s contributions to state, federal, United Nations, and World Health Organization policy-making related to flood protection and pandemic preparedness.

“The resurgence of interest in The Great Influenza since the start of the coronavirus outbreak proves the timeliness, and timelessness, of John’s work. His expertise and dedication to Louisiana, and in particular, his role in coastal restoration, are worthy of praise and celebration,” said State Librarian Rebecca Hamilton. “He joins distinguished past recipients such as Ernest Gaines, James Lee Burke, Tim Gautreaux, Johnette Downing, and Sheryl St. Germain, to name only a few. It is an honor to present this award to such a truly outstanding writer.”

Barry is the recipient of several awards, including the Francis Parkman Prize of the Society of American Historians and the New England Society Book Award. His writing has appeared in The New York TimesThe Washington PostTime, and Newsweek, and he is a frequent guest on numerous broadcasts in the U.S. and overseas. Barry is currently a Distinguished Scholar at Tulane’s Bywater Institute and a professor at the Tulane School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine.

The Louisiana Center for the Book in the State Library of Louisiana coordinates the Louisiana Writer Award and other programs and events that support reading, books, and libraries. The Louisiana Writer Award is given annually to recognize the extraordinary contributions to the state’s literary heritage exemplified by the artist’s body of work. An interview with John M. Barry led by Robert Mann, Manship Chair in Journalism at the Manship School of Mass Communication and Louisiana Library and Book Festival Foundation board member, will be available on YouTube and Facebook on November 12 at noon. For more information on Barry and his work, please visit the Louisiana Writer Award webpage.


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:
Rebecca Hamilton
State Library of Louisiana
225-342-4923
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Ashley Gordon
Office of the Lieutenant Governor
225-342-7009
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LOUISIANA YOUNG READERS' CHOICE AWARDS ANNOUNCES 2021-2022 NOMINATED TITLES

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BATON ROUGE, La. – Entering its 21st year, the Louisiana Young Readers' Choice (LYRC) Awards Program is excited to announce the 2021-2022 nominated title lists for grades 3-5, 6-8, and 9-12. Since the program's first list in 1999, over 400,000 students have read the recommended titles and voted for their favorites, reading more than 1.25 million books in the process.

Every year thousands of students from elementary to high school age vote for their favorite book from a list of titles curated by librarians serving on LYRC committees from across the state. Many students cast their ballot on real voting machines supplied by the Secretary of State's Voter Outreach Division.

"The Louisiana Readers' Choice Awards is just one of many phenomenal programs offered through the State Library which inspires a love of reading among the young people of our state," said Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser.

The 2021-2022 nominated title list includes many award winning authors, including Elizabeth Acevedo, winner of the National Book Award for Young People's Literature, the Michael L. Printz Award, and the Pura Belpré Award; Edgar Award winner Andrew Clements; Newbery Award winner Cynthia Lord; Jen Wang, winner of the Cybils Award, Harvey Award, and Eisner Award; and Alicia D. Williams, winner of the Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Author Award. From fiction to nonfiction, picture books to novels, science fiction to romance, historical to contemporary, these carefully chosen booklists cover a variety of interests and genres, so there is something for every reader.

"The titles on these lists are selected by professional school and public librarians from across the state with decades of experience working with children and children's literature," said State Librarian Rebecca Hamilton. "The nominated titles represent a variety of interests and viewpoints. Finding similarities with people who look and think differently helps connect us and fuels compassion. These are books that kids will love and that will inspire them to keep reading beyond the classroom walls, helping to create a culture of literacy in Louisiana, all of which is a key part of our mission here at the State Library."

The Louisiana Readers' Choice is a reading enrichment program of the Louisiana Center for the Book, housed in the State Library of Louisiana. Its mission is to foster a love of reading in the children of Louisiana by motivating them to participate in the recognition of outstanding books. According to a 2019 Kids Count report, 74% of Louisiana's fourth graders were not reading at a proficient level. The Louisiana Center for the Book and the State Library of Louisiana believes fostering a lifelong love of reading among Louisianans will contribute to the state's overall economic growth and quality of life.

To view the 2021-2022 Louisiana Young Readers' Choice Awards Program nominated titles list, click here. For information about the program including previous winners, how to participate, and additional resources such as free bookmarks, posters, and study guides, please visit the Louisiana Young Readers' Choice Program webpage.


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:
Rebecca Hamilton
State Library of Louisiana
225-342-4923
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Ashley Gordon
Office of the Lieutenant Governor
225-342-7009
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LOUISIANA POETS GATHER VIRTUALLY FOR NATIONAL POETRY MONTH

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LOUISIANA POETS GATHER VIRTUALLY FOR NATIONAL POETRY MONTH

Louisiana Center for the Book Presents Annual National Poetry Month Program

 

BATON ROUGE, La. – The Louisiana Center for the Book in the State Library of Louisiana will celebrate National Poetry Month with a virtual edition of “Just Listen to Yourself: Louisiana's Poet Laureate Presents Louisiana Poets.” In its tenth year, Louisiana Poet Laureate John Warner Smith will host the program. Smith has invited six poets from across the state to read their work including Liz Adair, Katie Bickham, Kelly Harris, David Havird, Brad Richard, and Donney Rose.

“The richness of Louisiana poetry can give us solace during these challenging days,” said Lt. Governor Billy Nungesser. “I am so proud of the State Library of Louisiana for stepping up and creating this alternative way of presenting this annual program uninterrupted for a tenth year.”

“The State Library of Louisiana has worked tirelessly to continue its regular programming and support despite the challenges posed by the current pandemic. I am proud that we are able to offer this online presentation as a grand finale to Louisiana's 2020 celebration of National Poetry Month,” said State Librarian Rebecca Hamilton. “Each year, I look forward to the opportunity to hear the varied voices of our Louisiana poets chosen by our poet laureate. This year, however, I am particularly proud to be able to provide the welcome and recognize these poets – each scheduled for the original live event – and all of our staff behind the scenes who have made this possible.”

The presentation will be recorded and available on YouTube and Facebook on Thursday, April 30, beginning at 12:00 p.m. For more information about the participating poets, see below:


John Warner Smith is the state poet laureate of Louisiana. Smith has published four collections of poetry. His fifth collection will be released this year. Smith earned his MFA at the University of New Orleans and is a fellow of Cave Canem. He is the winner of the 2019 Linda Hodge Bromberg Poetry Award. Smith lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Liz Adair received her B.A. in English from the University of Alabama in 2016. Currently, she serves as the Managing Editor of The McNeese Review and organizes MSU's graduate reading series. She is the first place recipient of the 2019 Joy Scantlebury Poetry Prize, and her poems have been selected as finalists for Jabberwock Review's 2019 Nancy D. Hargrove Editors' Prize in Poetry and F(r)iction's Winter 2018 Poetry Contest, judged by Kwame Dawes. She currently lives in Lake Charles, LA, with her (very cute) dog, Rocky.

Katie Bickham's two books of poetry are Mouths Open to Name Her and The Belle Mar. Her poems have appeared in The Missouri Review, Rattle, Prairie Schooner, and elsewhere. She is the winner of the Rattle Reader's Choice Award, The Missouri Review Editor's Prize, and the Lena-Miles Wever Todd Prize.

Kelly Harris received her MFA in Creative Writing from Lesley University and has received fellowships from the Fine Arts Work Center and Cave Canem. In 2017, she presented "Black Love: A Sustaining Force Post-Katrina" at the national symposium celebrating the 80th anniversary of Zora Neale Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God. In 2018, a portion of her research on Louisiana's first African-American poet laureate, Pinkie Gordon Lane, was published by The Louisiana Endowment for Humanities. She is the New Orleans Literary Coordinator for Poets & Writers. Kelly's first book, Freedom Knows My Name, is set for release in Spring 2020. More at kellyhd.com.

David Havird is the author of two collections of poems, Map Home and Penelope's Design, a chapbook. His new book, Weathering, published in 2020 by Mercer University Press, is a “chimeric omnibus” of poetry and memoir. He taught for 30 years at Centenary College of Louisiana. He lives in Shreveport.

Brad Richard is the author of four collections of poetry: Habitations, Motion Studies, Butcher's Sugar, and Parasite Kingdom, winner of the 2018 Tenth Gate Prize from The Word Works. He lives and writes in New Orleans, where he taught talented high school students for 28 years. More at bradrichard.org.

Donney Rose is a poet, teaching artist, essayist and community activist from Baton Rouge. He is the creator of The American Audit, a multimedia spoken word project detailing 400 years of Black American life using the extended metaphor of America as a business being audited. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Marketing from Southern University and A&M College in Baton Rouge. He is a 2018-2019 Kennedy Center Citizen Artist Fellow. Donney's work as a performance poet/writer has been featured in a variety of publications. His work as a community activist has been highlighted on BBC and Democracy Now! and in The New York Times. Donney also works as a contributing writer for The North Star.

Downloadable Program (link to PDF)

LibGuide (link to webpage)


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:

  • Rebecca Hamilton
    State Library of Louisiana
    225-342-4923
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  • Julio Guichard
    Office of the Lieutenant Governor
    504-914-7416
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2019-2020 LOUISIANA YOUNG READERS’ CHOICE WINNERS ANNOUNCED

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2019-2020 LOUISIANA YOUNG READERS' CHOICE WINNERS ANNOUNCED

Louisiana schoolchildren in grades 3-12 name their favorite books of the year

BATON ROUGE, La. — The State Library of Louisiana is excited to announce the winners of the 2019-2020 Louisiana Young Readers’ Choice Awards. With the program in its 21st year, Louisiana’s young people read more than 68,350 books and cast 22,269 votes this year alone.

The 2019-2020 Louisiana Young Readers’ Choice winners are:

Grade 3-5:
Imagine That!: How Dr. Seuss Wrote the Cat in the Hat (Penguin Random House) by Judy Sierra, illustrated by Kevin Hawkes

Grades 6-8:
Clayton Byrd Goes Underground (HarperCollins) by Rita Williams-Garcia

Grades 9-12:
The Hate U Give (Balzer + Bray) by Angie Thomas

Honor titles include Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut (Agate Bolden) by Derrick Barnes, illustrated by Gordon C. James for the grade 3-5 list; Refugee (Scholastic) by Alan Gratz for the grade 6-8 list; and, One of Us is Lying (Delacorte Press) by Karen M. McManus for the teen (grade 9-12) list. Winners are selected from diverse booklists carefully chosen by committees of school and public librarians from across the state, and many students cast their ballots on voting machines supplied by the Secretary of State’s Voter Outreach Division.

“Now in its 20th year, the Louisiana Young Readers’ Choice program is not only a great way to introduce students to some fantastic reads, but encourages an interest in the democratic process by allowing them the opportunity to vote on actual voting machines,” said Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser.

“The State Library of Louisiana is a driving force for the development of literacy among Louisianans, especially our young people,” said State Librarian Rebecca Hamilton. “By leveraging the collective expertise of our public and school librarians statewide, titles are selected that are of high-interest to students and that foster a love of reading that contributes to their lifelong development as skilled readers.”

An awards ceremony for honored book authors will be held at the Louisiana Book Festival on Saturday, October 31. For more information about the program, including previous winners, how to participate, and additional resources such as free bookmarks, posters, study guides, etc., please visit the Louisiana Young Readers’ Choice webpage.

Contact Information:

Rebecca Hamilton
State Library of Louisiana
225-342-4923
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Julio Guichard
Office of the Lieutenant Governor
504-914-7416
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--LouisianaTravel.com--

 

A TRIBUTE TO ERNEST J. GAINES

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Louisiana Center for the Book Presents Annual Black History Month Program

 BATON ROUGE, La. – The Louisiana Center for the Book in the State Library of Louisiana will celebrate Black History Month with “Gather at the River: A Tribute to Ernest J. Gaines” on Wednesday, February 19, from 12:00 - 1:30 p.m. in the Seminar Center of the State of Louisiana, located at 701 North 4th Street, Baton Rouge. This program, celebrating the life and work of Gaines, will be hosted by his close friend, Gaines Center board member, and two-time Louisiana Poet Laureate Darrell Bourque and will feature several authors, poets, and others with close personal connections to Gaines reading favorite passages from his work.

 “Louisiana is arguably the most diverse state in the nation, and we value our rich African-American history and culture,” said Lt. Governor Billy Nungesser. “When we lost Ernest Gaines this past November, we lost a state treasure. The contributions of Ernest Gaines have significantly shaped Louisiana’s literary heritage.”

 Gaines was born and raised in Point Coupee Parish, which serves as the backdrop for many of his works, including the Pulitzer Prize nominated and National Book Critics Circle Award winning novel A Lesson Before Dying. He went on to be nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature, have a literary excellence award named in his honor, and be chosen as the first recipient of the annual Louisiana Writer Award in 2000 presented by the State Library’s Louisiana Center for the Book.

 “The arc of Gaines’s novels and dramatizations of them, such as The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman and A Lesson Before Dying, as well as his own life lived through the civil rights movement, provide lessons in Black history for America,” observed Rebecca Hamilton, State Librarian of Louisiana. “An enduring legacy of Gaines is the impact his work will continue to have in raising our country’s awareness of the racial and social divides that remain as important today as ever.”

 Program participants will include Marcia Gaudet, Professor of English Emerita and founder and board president of the Ernest J. Gaines Center at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette; Cheylon Woods, Director of the Gaines Center; Louisiana State Senator Karen Carter Peterson; and Gaines’s wife, Dianne Gaines, among others.

The presentation is free and open to the public, and attendees are welcome to bring a brown bag lunch. Registration is not required. For a full list of participants see below.

A Tribute to Ernest J. Gaines

Participants

Darrell Bourque, poet and Gaines Center board member

Tony Chassion III, writer and former student of Dr. Gaines

Hollis Conway, two-time Olympic medalist and Director of Community Development for Lafayette’s Consolidated Government

Dianne Gaines, lawyer and wife of Ernest J. Gaines

Marcia Gaudet, Professor Emerita and founder and board president of Ernest J. Gaines Center at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette

Phebe Hayes, former Dean of General Studies at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, Gaines Center board member, and founder of New Iberia Parish African American Historical Society

Dr. Ernest Kinchen, Lafayette-based physician and general surgeonKaren

Carter Peterson, Louisiana State Senator

Mona Lisa Saloy, poet, folklorist, and creative writing professor at Dillard University

Gerald Singleton, veteran and life-long reader of Gaines’s works

Michelle Vallot, lawyer, entrepreneur, and president of Zydeco Foods, LLC

Cheylon Woods, archivist and director of the Ernest J. Gaines Center at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:
Rebecca Hamilton
State Library of Louisiana
225-342-4923
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Julio Guichard
Office of the Lieutenant Governor
225-342-7009
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