Poet Laureate Panel Sends Nominees to Gov. Jindal for Appointment, including LSU’s Laura Mullen

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 senate.

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 the state.

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 to 2007.

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 sartisky@leh.org.

Ernie  Ballard 
LSU Media Relations

Posted on Monday, April 1, 2013