Pre-order Acadiana – winner of the Black River Chapbook Competition, forthcoming from Black Lawrence Press in February 2018 – and contribute to Houston’s recovery after Hurricane Harvey

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.) With gratitude for the uncountable ways these communities enriched my life and made me a better teacher and writer, I’m working to contribute to the recovery of the YES Prep community through fundraising and through visiting the school to host a workshop for its aspiring writers.

Here’s how you can help: for every pre-order of Acadiana, I’ll make a donation of $2 to the YES Prep Family Flood Relief Fund. And if we reach 50 pre-orders, I’ll donate an additional $200. As the school’s website explains, this fund is focused on meeting the essential, immediate needs of families of students and alumni.

You can pre-order Acadiana – at a discounted price! – from Black Lawrence here.

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 Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Brooklyn, and at AWP in Tampa, and I’m working on booking readings in Houston, New Orleans, and Raleigh. I’ll hope to see you out there.