Posts Tagged ‘Drive by Poetry’

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This was my first year to participate in the Festival of Words in Grand Coteau. Grand Coteau is a small historical town about 35 miles north of New Iberia. This summer I met and chatted with Patrice Melnick, author of a new memoir Po-boy Contraband and owner of an artisan shop, Casa Azul. In late September, she hosted a reading and book signing for me. We made a connection, and she invited me to come back for the Festival of Words. I loved the feel of her place, artsy and comfortable, and the feel of the town with the main street lined with Cajun cottages.

The Festival of Words began with an awards ceremony on Thursday evening for the winners of the writing contest. I was privileged to have a student winner, so I picked her up after school, and we drove the hour to the Sunset library, just west of Grand Coteau. She commented that she loved the name of the town “Sunset.” At the awards ceremony, I introduced my student to two state poets laureate, Darrell Bourque and Julie Kane.

My student poetry winner meets the current state poet laureate, Julie Kane.

Following the open mic when students read, we enjoyed two performance poets, Bonny McDonald and Chancelier “Xero” Skidmore. Here is a video I took of Bonny’s performance of “To A natural in E flat.”

On Saturday, I ventured back to Grand Coteau and the Festival of Words. I attended a fiction writing workshop with Randall Kenan. The workshop was small and intimate and we wrote and talked and wrote and talked, the best kind of workshop to me. In the afternoon, I attended Julie Kane’s poetry workshop. Again it was a small group. She talked to us about forms and had us try out combining a praise poem with using the same first word in each line. We brainstormed ideas for mundane things to write about. We wrote about fingernail clippers, mosquitoes, and a volume knob. I wrote about grass. I was actually satisfied with the result.

For today I will step lightly
For your tenderness
For the light of sun upon your greenliness
For tickling my belly
For wriggling between my toes
For your fresh sweet scent
For the settled earth you draw strength from
For your canvas of wildflowers
For clover crowns
For hiding rolly-pollies, fleas, and snakes
For grass.

I wish I had stayed for more readings, but the day was growing long, and my mind weary, but I’ll be back next year.

Students from area high schools did drive-by poetry. Here a student reads aloud a poem by Julie Kane to Julie Kane. She delighted in hearing her own poems performed by these talented students.

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