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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)



  • Rebecca Hamilton
    State Library of Louisiana
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  • Julio Guichard
    Office of the Lieutenant Governor
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