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Louisiana Poets to Celebrate 25th National Poetry Month Virtually

April 15, 2021

Louisiana Center for the Book presents two programs to celebrate National Poetry Month

BATON ROUGE, La. - The Louisiana Center for the Book in the State Library of Louisiana will celebrate the 25th annual National Poetry Month with a virtual edition of its "Just Listen to Yourself: Louisiana's Poet Laureate Presents Louisiana Poets" and an additional event to celebrate the past decade of this series.

Louisiana Poet Laureate John Warner Smith will host the eleventh annual program with six poets from across the state invited by Smith to read their work. They include David Armand, Kelly Harris-DeBerry, William J. Jefferson, Dorie LaRue, Patrice Melnick, and Thomas Parrie. The presentation will be recorded and accessible on YouTube and Facebook on Tuesday, April 20, beginning at 12:00 p.m.

A lagniappe event, "Just Listen to Yourself: A Retrospective," will feature Darrell Bourque, the Louisiana Poet Laureate who originated the program in 2011, hosting readings by all of the poets who have served as the state's poet laureates and hosted this annual event since its inception. They include, in chronological order, Julie Kane, Ava Leavell Haymon, Peter Cooley, Jack Bedell, and John Warner Smith. This recorded presentation will be accessible on YouTube and Facebook on Tuesday, April 27, beginning at 12:00 p.m. For more information about the participating poets, visit the State Library of Louisiana website.

"With the pandemic still making convening for programs in person difficult," said Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser. "I am excited the State Library of Louisiana has created opportunities again this year for Louisiana poets to be heard through these alternative virtual presentations."

"The State Library of Louisiana is proud that it is able to participate in National Poetry Month again this year and to look back fondly at the previous decade of ‘Just Listen' events," said State Librarian Rebecca Hamilton. "During those years 58 poets have appeared as panelists with the six poet laureate hosts, some multiple times. I am gratified that we have been able to offer this program without pause, now for the eleventh time, including four additional individuals who have not previously participated. Each year it is so rewarding for us to celebrate Louisiana's literary talent by hearing the voices of poets from throughout the state. I am particularly proud of all our staff behind the scenes who have made this and other virtual programs possible, which allows us to reach more Louisianans than ever before."

For a listing of all the participating poets who have contributed to the "Just Listen to Yourself" series, check out the "In the News" section of the State Library of Louisiana website.

The Louisiana Center for the Book, established in the State Library of Louisiana in 1994 for the purpose of stimulating public interest in reading, books, and libraries and celebrating Louisiana's rich literary heritage, is the state affiliate of the Library of Congress Center for the Book.

For more information, contact Rebecca Hamilton (State Library of Louisiana) at 225-342-4923 or rhamilton@crt.la.gov, or contact Barry Landry (Department of Culture, Recreation & Tourism) at 225-342-7009 or blandry@crt.la.gov.

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