winner of the Fall 2016 Black River Chapbook Competition and published by Black Lawrence Press
My life in the south was bookended by hurricanes: First, Hurricane Katrina, which devastated the school and community where I’d been teaching in New Orleans East. Then, in Houston years later, Hurricane Ike disrupted the lives of many of my students and damaged the school where I was then teaching, the Southeast campus of YES Prep, an open enrollment charter school aimed at increasing the number of students from underserved communities who attend and graduate from college.
That experience of being so near disaster and seeing how communities come together afterwards shaped this collection. Inspired in part by the landscape and folklore of south Louisiana, Acadiana is set in a small southern town and its surrounding swamps and bayous against the approach and aftermath of a hurricane.
Though I now live far from the gulf south, I’ve been enormously saddened by the destruction caused during this hurricane season. Many of the families whose children I taught at YES have again had their lives upended by Hurricane Harvey. (You can read more about the involvement of Houston’s public school teachers and students, including students from the school system where I taught, here.) Our pre-order fundraising campaign raised $300 for the Yes Prep Family Flood Relief Fund.
You can read a sampling of poems from Acadiana online: Girl Chooses Flight and Signs Resembling Sacraments, selected for Hoppenthaler’s Congeries in Connotation Press; The Sibyls Swear Away Their Prophecy, The Thibodeaux Girl Speaks, After, and St. James at the Ascension Parish Drive-In, all published by Radar Poetry as finalists for their 2016 Coniston Prize.
I’ll be reading from Acadiana this spring in Camden, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Brooklyn, Raleigh, and Houston, and I’ll be in New Orleans in September. I’ll hope to see you out there.