Posts Tagged ‘Arnaudville’

Join the Two Writing Teachers blog for Tuesdays Slice of Life Challenge.

Join the Two Writing Teachers blog for Tuesdays Slice of Life Challenge.

Photo by Cajun Byrd on flickr.

Photo by Cajun Byrd on flickr.

The heat is on. Temperatures are reaching well into the 90’s with heat indexes of 100+. Humidity thickens the air. And yet, the party still goes on.

Last weekend my husband and I drove an hour north through fields of sugarcane and soybeans, past ancient live oaks along the ridge of the Bayou Teche. We were driving to see one of our favorite Cajun fiddlers, Michael Doucet, who was playing with 3 other musicians at Bayou Teche Brewery in Arnaudville.


I’ve known Michael since I taught his son, Ezra, in third grade. (If my calculations are right, it’s been 17 years.) Michael has always been charming and welcoming, even though he’s gotten quite famous. This day was no different.

There was a slight breeze. When it blew, we raised our arms like cormorants. We danced a two-step and a waltz and drank a beer fresh from the brewery.

I was transported back in time…
when the coolest place was on the porch
where musicians played in the late afternoon,
and the cicadas joined the fiddle tune,
when family was mother, father, brother, sister, cousin, Parran, Nanny, and the neighbors next door.

Michael and his friends captured that front-porch-family feeling with their music.

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Join the Tuesday Slice of Life!

Join the Tuesday Slice of Life!

This weekend I was invited by the Acadiana Wordlab to read at a poetry reading for the Fire and Water Festival in Arnaudville. I walked in to The Little Big Cup, a quaint restaurant that even has blue china in the bathroom. The cake balls are just the right size for a sweet treat, along with a cup of your favorite hot drink. There was a large table full of poet friends and poet-friends-to-be. Ten poets gathered to read! I wrote down lines from each poet, added a few of my own, and created this found poem.

Last night I dreamed the moon was burning.
She smelled of incense, indeed as special as a single snowflake.
There is no exhale on nights like these.

The moon sees everything in red,
eyes wild like the river.
Blooming ginger stalks, waves of fragrance paint the sky
All the way down.

Our vision is often smeared.
We don’t see the signs, or ignore them.
While poets print their poems on the back pages of a calendar,
our soft necks hold them dear.

–Margaret Simon and poets of Acadiana Wordlab, all rights reserved

Before leaving the town of Arnaudville, I stopped at Nunu’s to see what was up. There were demonstrations all day long, cooking, crafts, etc. I happened on a woman making posies. Do you know what a posy is? Karen explained it’s a small bouquet. She had a table full of greenery and carnations. She showed me how to make the bouquet in my hand. “Start with the lightest color at the top. Twist in each stem. Arrangements in threes are pleasing.” I made this sweet bouquet to take home.


The next station I visited was a book making one. The artist, Juliet, and I had an immediate connection. She helped me make a book using mat board and duct tape. I sewed pages together using a needle and dental floss. She called each set of pages a signature. We told each other of our father-artists and the artist journey. She even identified me as a fellow Leo.

Juliet Lockwood, artist in residence at Baton Rouge General, and Karen Willingham of Deaux Bayou Gallery, were my gracious instructors.

Juliet Lockwood, artist in residence at Baton Rouge General, and Karen Willingham of Deaux Bayou Gallery, were my gracious instructors.

A day of poetry and lagniappe!

Acadiana Wordlab
Deaux Bayou Gallery
NuNu’s Art and Culture Collective

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The prairie inspires artists and writers.

The prairie inspires artists and writers.

Join the Tuesday Slice of Life

Join the Tuesday Slice of Life

This weekend I was invited to read at a festival in Arnaudville, a small town about 40 miles north of New Iberia. The drive to Arnaudville along Highway 31 follows the curving Bayou Teche. Years ago, I drove this same highway to a fiction writing workshop. It was in this workshop that I wrote the first chapter of Blessen. The workshop took place in NuNu’s, an arts collective with a performance area and a cafe in the back. The building sat on a high ridge near the bayou. A few years ago, the place burned. Now Nunu’s is housed down the highway in a large old lumber company building. Walking into the place, you step back in time on long leaf pine floors and high ceilings. You look out onto endless rice fields. I felt a sentimental connection to this birthplace of my first novel. And it was here that I connected with new friends who write.

Clare Martin organized the event in conjunction with the Fire and Water Festival “Le Feu et l’Eae.” (All festivals in South Louisiana have French names.) She titled the readings, “Words of Fire, Words of Water.” I felt privileged to be among the readers. Clare read from her recent book of poetry, Eating the Heart First. I felt an immediate connection to this woman who has turned her grief into beautiful poetry. Talking to her after the reading, I shared something about not expecting to sell many books that day. (I sold 6! A good day!) Her response was so encouraging.

Each success no matter how small in practice of what I love is a lightning strike against the dark.

I loved this! Another woman-writer-friend, Chere’ Coen, (See her blog post about the event.) gave me a Gris Gris bag for courage. And guess what symbol it had on it? A lightning bolt! More synchronicity.

The gris gris bag for courage with Clare's book of poetry, my prizes from Words of Fire, Words of Water.

The gris gris bag for courage with Clare’s book of poetry, my prizes from Words of Fire, Words of Water.

Traveling home from the lovely day in Arnaudville, (not to mention, after a delicious catfish po-boy, hazelnut latte, and double-chocolate cake ball) I felt full. I was full of the spirit that brings us life and creativity and art.

2012-12-01 13.48.09

This poem by Clare L. Martin moved me to tears:


The hospital room is cool.
There are moths in your breath.

Circled in ice, you’re enwrapped in white fire.
Coffee-colored urine drains in a bag.

I swab your lips with lemon glycerin.
Your pulse beeps loss. I buzz a nurse out of the void.

I cannot watch you die.
The doctor scowls at my cowardliness.

Stunted from birth, plucked too early—
You were wingless.

It took me years to believe it wasn’t my fault
you despaired in an infant’s life.

I choose blue for the burial
like the thunderhead in your eyes.

The undertaker powders the fine
hairs of your face, seals you in secret.

First published in The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature
Reprinted by permission from the author

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