Posts Tagged ‘New Iberia’

See more posts at Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life

Katelyn Gulotta as Elle Woods

I am not a theatre critic, but I do enjoy a good musical.  Our local little theatre, IPAL (Iberia Performing Arts League) is in its production of Legally Blonde: The Musical.  I attended  the matinee on Sunday afternoon.

IPAL has a reputation for producing top-notch musicals, and this year’s is one of the best.  It wasn’t just the singing that was good (it was!) or the orchestra’s sound (amazing!) or the choreography (spot on!), it was the coming together of a team of actors to create a most entertaining experience.  I laughed until I cried!

Scene after scene, the play drew me in.  IPAL is not called “Broadway on the Bayou” for no reason.  These volunteers who practiced night after night delivered, and made me feel I was right there with them on stage.  I was glad, however, that I was not chosen from the audience to try a bend and snap, but the precious twenty-something next to me was.

You know that a play has totally drawn in the audience when the main character Elle is proposed to by the jerk ex-boyfriend, someone yells, “No!”

All of the acting was good, but I was impressed with how Katelyn, who played Elle, handled the transformation from a giddy sorority girl to a serious lawyer seamlessly.

You should make time this weekend to attend IPAL’s Legally Blonde.  Even if they publicly announce they are sold out, there are often seats available.  I know this first hand because my ticket on Sunday was apparently for March 24th, but they had a ticket they could trade with me.

Musical theatre in a small town can surprise and entertain you and make you proud to be from Da’ Berry.

Curtain call for Legally Blonde, the Musical.

Read Full Post »

Find more celebration posts at Ruth’s blog.


Bunk Johnson mural at Da Berry Fresh Market


I look forward to Thursdays.  Carl gives me a call to remind me to pick up my vegetables at Da Berry Fresh Market.  I signed up for this CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) in June, but it’s taken awhile for me to remember the pick-up day.

Each week Carl packs up fruits, vegetables, herbs, and a little surprise jar of something.  This week the surprise was a jar of pickled green tomatoes.  Last week there were 2 jars, honey and balsamic fig and blueberry jam.  This weekly supply inspires fresher and more inventive meals.  Last night I sautéed eggplant in shallots to go into delicious Yum Yum bowls for my family. (The girls are home for the weekend.) The meal was a big hit.

Daniel and Carl of Da Berry Fresh Market

Envision da Berry is the brainchild of Phanat Xanamane.  He came back home to ‘da Berry (New Iberia) to make a difference. The da Berry Market is just one way he has brightened up this area.  Phanat and Envision da Berry believe “combining art and technology in public space has the power to open Iberia Parish up to a new world of economic and cultural possibility.”  The glow on both Carl’s and Daniel’s faces not only reflect the heat, but also the joy and pride they take in their work.

And yes, I feel better about myself as a consumer buying fresh food from local farmers.  This is a positive for all, the community, the farmers, and me. To find out more, visit Da Berry Fresh Market at 520 Hopkins Street, New Iberia or follow their Facebook page. 



Read Full Post »

Discover. Play. Build.

Ruth Ayres invites us the celebrate each week. Click over to her site Discover. Play. Build. to read more celebrations.

Hayden reads his story to Jack, the lemur.

Hayden reads his story to Jack, the lemur.

This week I am celebrating some great new writers. They attended Write Your Way writing camp with me. Above you see Hayden reading to Jack, the lemur. Jack took a tour of Main Street with us and especially enjoyed frolicking in the Bayou Teche Museum. He sat still long enough to listen to Hayden’s story about Al Hirt and Blue Dog.

Al Hirt and Blue Dog were getting ready for a wedding. Al was wearing a tuxedo and Blue Dog combed his fur. They were about to leave Al’s apartment .But before they could they heard a trumpet. They wanted to know where it came from. They looked and looked until they found it. A trumpet rested there. “Blow me and I’ll take you to the wedding,” it said. They were confused. But Hirt blew it anyway. They were then at the wedding. The End. –Hayden

Inspiration in Books along the Teche

Inspiration in Books along the Teche

Inspiration for writing was waiting all along Main Street. We stopped in at the independent book store, Books along the Teche. Emery found a line in The Book Thief that jumpstarted a whole new story for her. I hope she will keep writing it. That’s the thing about writing camp. It’s always too short. We set up a blog on kidblog that I hope the kids will use, but I know how summer activities take over and then school will start again. It’s hard to keep their focus once you release them.

Yesterday, I asked my writers to tell me their favorite part of writing camp, what surprised them, and how they will continue to practice their writing. The blog, writing in different places, and meeting new friends were top favorites. The surprises included “I didn’t think I was a poet,” and “I usually plan out my writing before doing it, but I was able to write a story and I don’t know where it’s going.”

We ate lunch yesterday at Victor’s cafateria, a favorite place for Dave Robicheaux (James Lee Burke’s MC). The clerk who checked us out asked me, “Are you a writer?”
I answered, “Yes.” I asked her to ask the students that question. Each of them said, “Yes, I am a writer.” I celebrate young writers today.

Read Full Post »

  Join the Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Challenge.

Join the Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Challenge.


This past Saturday was the culmination of a year long student project. We began working with the group of 6th grade gifted students in August. Each month we met together as a group, 6 teachers and 23 students. In the beginning we immersed the students in the theme we had selected for this year, bridges. We brought in speakers including the chief engineer for a bridge being rebuilt in New Iberia. The bridge had been out for more than two years, and some of our students were well aware of the inconvenience this caused. Barbara Ostuno, chief engineer, piqued their interest in the construction of a real bridge. As discussions over a service project were held, the students brought up the bridge and how we could celebrate its completion. Thus we began to plan a bridge opening ceremony.

In January, Mayor Hilda Curry came to visit our group. She spoke to them about the ins and outs of planning a community event. She explained how the original bridge was built by her grandfather when he was mayor. The new bridge will also be named for him, Joe Daigre. She then invited them to meet with the department heads to talk about their ideas. We planned a field trip for February.

On this trip, we started the day bridging the generation gap by meeting elderly in an assisted living facility. The students played games with them and interviewed them for a later writing project. They wrote essays about their grandfriend and submitted them to the Legacy Project contest.

In the afternoon, we met with the Chamber of Commerce about a ribbon cutting for the bridge opening and with the city department heads. This was incredibly empowering to our students. They gained confidence in knowing their voices were being heard and were important to others. They were having real world experience being community organizers.

Raising Cane's manager and employees joined the celebration.

Raising Cane’s manager and employees joined the celebration.

As a group, the students decided to raise funds for playground equipment for a local park. They went out looking for sponsors for the t-shirts. They gathered 30 donations of $50-$250 each.

The students presented their plan to the City Council at a regular meeting in March. We even brought some council members to tears as they were touched by the students’ poise and enthusiasm. A few students and teachers represented our project to the school board and received a donation from the superintendent.

All of this work culminated in our event on Saturday. Wearing our student-designed t-shirts, we met at City Hall to walk down Main Street to the new bridge. The bridge is named for our mayor’s grandfather, so it was fitting that she cut the ribbon.

students at the bridge

Students spoke and led the ceremony. At last count, the donations and t-shirt profits were close to exceeding $3000. I feel pretty confident that this real world experience will stay with these students for a long time. They will drive over the Joe Daigre Bridge as parents and tell their children about the grand opening celebration that they helped to organize.

Read Full Post »

Discover. Play. Build.

Each week I join in with other teacher-bloggers in celebrating our week. The celebration is hosted by Ruth Ayres at Discover. Play. Build. I hope I can stop sneezing long enough to write. Spring is coming and trees are blooming. My allergies tell me so. Today is a gorgeous day in South Louisiana. The sun is shining. The birds are singing. The air is crispy cool at 57 degrees. I celebrate starting my day with a walk. Minga is back to health, so we took our dogs Petey and Charlie to the park. Celebration was prevalent as old friends greeted her, happy to see her out and looking great.

I want to celebrate our 6th grade gifted students. We took them on a field trip this week as part of our WOW (Way out Wednesdays) enrichment program. First stop was Azalea Estates assisted living facility. There the students played games with and interviewed the residents. The room was full of energy. Everyone enjoyed themselves.

Brooklyn interviews Montez about her life for a Legacy project.

Brooklyn interviews Montez about her life for a Legacy project.

Next we went to downtown New Iberia to meet with various entities about our community service project plan. The students were met with respect by the head of the Chamber of Commerce as well as the mayor and city department heads. They did a wonderful job presenting their plans. I overheard one student say to another, “I like feeling special.” I celebrate their specialness and the opportunity to work with a great group of teachers and students.

I also want to take a moment to celebrate a fellow poet and cyber-friend, Laura Shovan. Laura is doing a birthday project at her site Author Amok. She is asking other poets to join in by writing to color prompts. This week I hit a hard spot. I wanted to write to the color Dubarry. I struggled after researching Madame duBarry. I tried a number of times to write something and the results were crap, let’s say less than desirable. I told Laura of my trouble and she sent me a prompt through email. “Wear it: Imagine you are putting on an article of clothing in this color. What happens when you walk out your front door?” I was getting ready for bed when a poem with the color Orange Pepper came to me. I wrote it on a sticky note in the bathroom, then sent it to her immediately. She posted it the next day. My confidence is back. Thanks, Laura, for making me feel special.

I bought a tangerine purse–
orange pepper for my shoulder.
My daughter said I looked like I was carrying a satsuma.
The mailman asked if I had anything toxic or potentially hazardous.
But you said,
“Hey, I see sunshine on your shoulder.
Let’s walk together.”

by Margaret Simon

Read Full Post »

Discover. Play. Build.

Fellow blogger, Ruth Ayres starts up her Celebration Saturday round-up today. Click on the image above to find other writers celebrating today.

Gallery hanging
Excitement is in the air at A&E Gallery for the Fall into the Arts Artwalk tonight. Above is a picture of gallery owner, Paul Schexnayder on the right, showing my father, John Gibson, on the left where he will be displaying Dad’s art for tonight.

gallery hanging 2
Dad brought 8 pieces to show, a few to sell, and some prints. I am excited to introduce him and his art to my friends here in New Iberia. We will be signing and selling our collaborative book Illuminate. My brother, Hunter Gibson, completed the companion CD, and it is absolutely beautiful. My nieces added in their voices on the recording. This whole project touches me deeply. I hope others will feel all the love that has gone into the book, the love of art, poetry, music, and family. A true thing to celebrate!

Read Full Post »

Join the Tuesday Slice of Life

Join the Tuesday Slice of Life

Motel Beau Sejour by Paul Schexnayder

Motel Beau Sejour by Paul Schexnayder

On Friday, I joined a group of teachers from the Acadiana Writing Project on a writing marathon. I took two other teachers with me to show them my friend and colleague Paul Schexnayder’s gallery. I sat next to the above painting and wrote him a letter. Paul was dubbed “Art Man” some years ago when he taught at the school my children attended. He has become the Art Man of New Iberia promoting local artists in an old historical building known as A&E Gallery after the original owner, August Erath.

Serendipitously, Paul posted his before and after paintings on Facebook and gave me permission to post them here. This painting is one of his Hometown Series. Residents remember this motel that stood at the western edge of town in the 1960’s and 70’s.

Click here to visit Paul’s website.

Dear Art Man,
I’m here in your gallery today. Like Goldilocks,
I sit in your chair. You know the one:
an old metal stool with the white vinyl seat
splattered with paint, just-right
for reaching the easel. Your apron is draped
over the back. I try it on, pretend
to be you.

Here is an aerial photograph of your subject.
Did you use it to lay out your design?
Are you finished yet? I’m not sure.
Are you?

The sky is a deep dark blue stretching to near white
in the far right hand corner. The sun, perhaps, is rising.
A line of trees defines the horizon. In the foreground,
a sign:

Free TV,
Beau Sejour,
Swimming Pool, Restaurant

I recognize the Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser
I had as a child, fake wood on the side.
Does this one have a sunroof or an AM/FM radio
like ours?

I want to go jump into the motel pool
alluring me with a curvy white slide.
I see your foam plate palettes still full of paint.
Do I dare dip a brush in?
Make my mark on your developing masterpiece?
I can hop into the station wagon,
ride to Motel Beau Sejour—

–Margaret Simon, all rights reserved

Motel Beau Sejour finished by Paul Schexnayder.

Motel Beau Sejour finished by Paul Schexnayder.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »