04/01/2013 02:22 PM
BATON ROUGE – Louisiana is one step closer to naming its next poet laureate. A special
statewide panel, chaired by Michael Sartisky, president and executive director of
the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities, has sent the names of three finalists,
including LSU McElveen Professor in English Laure Mullen, to Gov. Bobby Jindal, who
by statute will make the final selection subject to confirmation by the Louisiana
The finalists are Mullen, Jack Bedell and Ava Leavell Haymon.
Well-regarded both locally and nationally, Mullen has is the author of seven books,
including “Enduring Freedom,” “Dark Archive” and “Murmur.” She is a popular professor
at LSU and is credited with attracting new graduate students to the campus. Among
her awards are an LSU Alumni Association Faculty Excellence Award and the National
Poetry Series prize, and she has lectured at Creteil Universite in Paris and the National
University in Tapei. Experimental yet accessible, her work maintains a musical quality
that invigorates her public presentations.
Jack Bedell, is professor of the humanities at Southeastern Louisiana University and
the author of seven books, including “Call and Response,” “Come Rain, Come Shine,”
“What Passes for Love” and the forthcoming “Bone-Hollow, True: New & Selected Poems.”
His journal, Louisiana Literature has published numerous Louisiana poets, and Bedell
has taught creative writing to students from the third-grade level to the graduate
level. Intimate and personable, his work reflects a familiarity with daily life in
the state and its people. In addition, he has worked with the LEH’s award-winning
PRIME TIME Family Literacy Program as a storyteller and continues so promote the writing
of his fellow Louisianans.
Haymon is a nationally recognized poet and teacher who organizes poetry workshops
and seminars throughout the state, including the Artists-in-the-Schools program in
Baton Rouge, the Junior Great Books program in several parishes, and numerous classes
at LSU. Her three full-length collections, “The Strict Economy of Fire,” “Kitchen
Heat” and, most recently, “Why the House is Made of Gingerbread,” have been published
by LSU Press. In 2010, the Academy of American Poets featured one of her poems as
by as the poem of the day. She is a master craftsperson and respected presence in
According to selection guidelines, nominees must have published works in books, anthologies,
literary journals or magazines. In addition, the selection committee must seek information
from the general public and the literary community. The committee must select nominees
who reflect the diverse cultures and heritage of Louisiana.
Once the nominee is approved by the governor, the new poet laureate will replace poet
Julie Kane, a professor of English at Northwestern State University in Natchitoches,
who has served in that position since 2011. Her term ends May 21, 2013. Kane succeeded
Darrell Bourque, who served as the State Poet Laureate from 2008 to 20010. Brenda
Marie Osbey was Louisiana’s first peer-selected poet laureate and served from 2005
Under state law, the LEH is charged with overseeing the poet laureate nomination process.
It selects a nominations committee consisting of two published poets from Louisiana,
two professors of literature from a Louisiana college or university, two representatives
from the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities, and a representative from LSU Press.
Nominees must be either born or domiciled in Louisiana at the time of nomination.
This year’s panel included Prof. John Biguenet, Loyola University; Darrell Bourque,
former poet laureate and professor at University of Louisiana at Lafayette; Reggie
Young, University of Louisiana at Lafayette; Prof. Jack Heflin, University of Louisiana
at Monroe; Brian Boyles, director of Public Relations and Programs at the LEH; and
MaryKatherine Callaway, director, LSU Press.
The LEH will provide grants to non-profit organizations in Louisiana, such as libraries,
adult literacy groups, and groups interested in language studies, that wish to host
the poet laureate for poetry readings, discussion or presentations.
For additional information, contact Sartisky at 504-620-2480 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted on Monday, April 1, 2013