The 13th annual festival, held virtually on Zoom this year, is a FREE festival featuring award-winning writers. Join us for a poetry presentation and reading with authors Robin Ha, Erika Meitner, and John Warner Smith, the poet laureate of Louisiana.
John Warner Smith is the author of four collections of poetry. His fifth collection, Our Shut Eyes: New & Selected Poems on Race in America, is forthcoming from MadHat Press. Smith began writing poetry while building a successful professional career as a public administrator and a bank executive. His last public sector position was service on the cabinet of Governor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco as Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Labor, where he led the recovery of the state's workforce development system in the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Smith earned his MFA in Creative Writing from the University of New Orleans. Upon completing the MFA, he received a fellowship from the Cave Canem Foundation to attend the prestigious writing program founded by Toi Derricotte and Cornelius Eady. Smith is also a three-time participant of the Callaloo Creative Writing Workshop, where he studied under award-winning poets Tracy K. Smith and Terrance Hayes. Smith teaches English at Southern University in Baton Rouge. Since November 2007, he has directed a statewide non-profit organization dedicated to reforming public education in Louisiana.
Robin Ha grew up reading and drawing comics. At fourteen she moved to the United States from Seoul, Korea. After graduating from the Rhode Island School of Design with a BFA in illustration, she moved to New York City and started a career in the fashion industry. Her work has been published in independent comic anthologies including Secret Identities and The Strumpet, as well as in the pages of Marvel Comics and Heavy Metal Magazine. She is also the author of the New York Times bestselling comic recipe book Cook Korean!: A Comic Book with Recipes. Her most recent publication is the highly acclaimed graphic novel Almost American Girl.
Erika Meitner is the winner of the 2018 National Jewish Book Award for Poetry and author of five books of poems: Holy Moly Carry Me; Inventory at the All-Night Drugstore; Makeshift Instructions for Vigilant Girls; and Ideal Cities, which was a 2009 National Poetry series winner; and Copia. Her poetry and prose have been widely anthologized. Born and raised in Queens and Long Island, NY, Meitner is a first-generation American: her father is from Israel; her mother was born in a refugee camp in Germany, which is where her maternal grandparents settled after surviving the Holocaust. Meitner is currently a professor of English at Virginia Tech, where she directs the MFA and undergraduate programs in Creative Writing.