(Virtual) Just Listen to Yourself: Louisiana's Poet Laureate Presents Louisiana Poets

The Louisiana Center for the Book in the State Library of Louisiana will celebrate National Poetry Month with a virtual edition of “Just Listen to Yourself: Louisiana's Poet Laureate Presents Louisiana Poets.” In its tenth year, Louisiana Poet Laureate John Warner Smith will host the program. Smith has invited six poets from across the state to read their work including Liz Adair, Katie Bickham, Kelly Harris, David Havird, Brad Richard, and Donney Rose.

“The richness of Louisiana poetry can give us solace during these challenging days,” said Lt. Governor Billy Nungesser. “I am so proud of the State Library of Louisiana for stepping up and creating this alternative way of presenting this annual program uninterrupted for a tenth year.”

“The State Library of Louisiana has worked tirelessly to continue its regular programming and support despite the challenges posed by the current pandemic. I am proud that we are able to offer this online presentation as a grand finale to Louisiana's 2020 celebration of National Poetry Month,” said State Librarian Rebecca Hamilton. “Each year, I look forward to the opportunity to hear the varied voices of our Louisiana poets chosen by our poet laureate. This year, however, I am particularly proud to be able to provide the welcome and recognize these poets – each scheduled for the original live event – and all of our staff behind the scenes who have made this possible.”

The presentation will be recorded and available on YouTube and Facebook on Thursday, April 30, beginning at 12:00 p.m.

John Warner Smith is the state poet laureate of Louisiana. Smith has published four collections of poetry. His fifth collection will be released this year. Smith earned his MFA at the University of New Orleans and is a fellow of Cave Canem. He is the winner of the 2019 Linda Hodge Bromberg Poetry Award. Smith lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Liz Adair received her B.A. in English from the University of Alabama in 2016. Currently, she serves as the Managing Editor of The McNeese Review and organizes MSU's graduate reading series. She is the first place recipient of the 2019 Joy Scantlebury Poetry Prize, and her poems have been selected as finalists for Jabberwock Review's 2019 Nancy D. Hargrove Editors' Prize in Poetry and F(r)iction's Winter 2018 Poetry Contest, judged by Kwame Dawes. She currently lives in Lake Charles, LA, with her (very cute) dog, Rocky.

Katie Bickham's two books of poetry are Mouths Open to Name Her and The Belle Mar. Her poems have appeared in The Missouri Review, Rattle, Prairie Schooner, and elsewhere. She is the winner of the Rattle Reader's Choice Award, The Missouri Review Editor's Prize, and the Lena-Miles Wever Todd Prize.

Kelly Harris received her MFA in Creative Writing from Lesley University and has received fellowships from the Fine Arts Work Center and Cave Canem. In 2017, she presented "Black Love: A Sustaining Force Post-Katrina" at the national symposium celebrating the 80th anniversary of Zora Neale Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God. In 2018, a portion of her research on Louisiana's first African-American poet laureate, Pinkie Gordon Lane, was published by The Louisiana Endowment for Humanities. She is the New Orleans Literary Coordinator for Poets & Writers. Kelly's first book, Freedom Knows My Name, is set for release in Spring 2020.