A Daiquiri State of Mind

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By Michael Mizell-Nelson, PhD

The following appears in the Spring 2014 issue of Louisiana Cultural Vistas magazine. Mizell-Nelson writes the “Louisiana Foodways” column for each issue. To read the full Spring 2014 issue online, click here

New Orleans generates most of the attention when discussing the emergence of the frozen daiquiri as a cultural phenomenon, but the college towns of Ruston, Lafayette, Lake Charles, and Hammond all offered mass-produced daiquiris before the Crescent City. Those first locations, in cooperation with Baton Rouge legislation, built the frozen daiquiri culture we now live amidst. Louisiana’s unofficial, but most popular, beverage originated in the northern part of the state better known for another entrepreneurial response to our region’s extreme heat: Coca Cola.

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Walter Isaacson: “My So-Called Writing Life”

Walter Isaacson and Walker Percy in Covington, August 1988
Walter Isaacson (right) and Walker Percy in Covington, August 1988

Walter Isaacson is the 2014 LEH Humanist of the Year. President and CEO of The Aspen Institute and the best-selling author of biographies of Steve Jobs, Albert Einstein and Ben Franklin, Isaacson contributed this autobiographical article to the new issue of Louisiana Cultural Vistas magazine. To read the full issue online and view more photos from this article, click here.  To renew your subscription to LCV, click here. The LEH will honor Isaacson at the March 29th Humanities Awards

I once was asked to contribute a piece for a section of the Washington Post called “The Writing Life.” This caused me some consternation. A little secret of many nonfiction writers like me—especially those of us who spring from journalism—is that we don’t quite think of ourselves as true writers, at least not of the sort who get called to reflect upon “the writing life.” At the time, my daughter, with all the wisdom and literary certitude that flowed from being a 13-year-old aspiring novelist, pointed out that I was not a “real writer” at all. I was merely, she said, a journalist and biographer.

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Interview: 2014 Humanities Lifetime Achievement Awardee Peggy Scott Laborde

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A native of New Orleans, Peggy Scott Laborde has dedicated her life to documenting the history, culture and traditions of her hometown. As a reporter, filmmaker and producer, she is an invaluable contributor to the cultural life in the city through her research and generosity. The LEH honors her this year with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2014 Humanities Awards, March 29th at the Audubon Tea Room in New Orleans (click here for tickets). We spoke to Peggy about her first interview, the Tennessee WIlliams/New Orleans Literary Festival and, of course, Mardi Gras.  Continue reading Interview: 2014 Humanities Lifetime Achievement Awardee Peggy Scott Laborde

Interview: Lily Keber

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Lily Keber is the director of Bayou Maharajah, the 2014 LEH Documentary Film of the Year. Keber and others will be honored on March 29th at the Humanities Awards in New Orleans. (Click here for tickets) We spoke with her about  pianist James Booker and filmmaking in New Orleans.

LEH: You had to love Booker to begin this project. Given what you know about him after years of working on this film, how has your understanding of the man and his music changed?

Lily Keber: To be honest, I knew very little about Booker when I began. I think in a way that helped the process because it allowed me to explore his story with open eyes. Continue reading Interview: Lily Keber

Interview: Dana Kress on French-Language Poet Laureate Zachary Richard

Zachary Richard
Zachary Richard

Founded in 1968, the Council for the Development of French in Louisiana (CODOFIL) is dedicated to preserving and promoting francophile rights and culture in Louisiana. This week the LEH joins CODOFIL and the Louisiana Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism to announce the selection of Zachary Richard as the first Poète lauréat de la Louisiane française. Richard was selected for the honorary two-year post (2014-2016) because of his outstanding contributions in the field of poetry. Chosen in even years, the French language Poet Laureate’s efforts will complement those of the English language Laureate, currently Ava Leavell Haymon, appointed in 2013 by Governor Bobby Jindal through a process directed by the LEH.  Both poets will be honored at the March 29th Humanities Awards. Buy your tickets here today.

LEH 2011 Humanist of the Year Dr. Dana Kress served as the selection committee’s chair. We spoke with Dr. Kress about CODOFIL, the new position and the poetry of Zachary Richard.

LEH: We’re very excited about the establishment of this new role. Can you tell us the origins of the position?

Dana Kress: This is an idea that has been percolating in the French and Creole-speaking communities of Louisiana for some time but it gained momentum as a result of a conversation between Darrell Bourque, a former Poet Laureate of Louisiana, and Brenda Mounier, at one of the French gatherings at NuNus in Arnaudville in June of last year. Continue reading Interview: Dana Kress on French-Language Poet Laureate Zachary Richard

Pennington Foundation Renews Support for PRIME TIME across Greater Baton Rouge

Students at Carver Elementary thank the Pennington Foundation
Students at Carver Elementary thank the Pennington Foundation

The Irene W. and C.B. Pennington Foundation recently awarded a $25,000 gift to the LEH, renewing its support for PRIME TIME Family Reading Time programming across Greater Baton Rouge in 2014.  A total of four PRIME TIME programs will be implemented in East and West Baton Rouge schools and libraries during the spring and fall 2014 cycles, impacting an estimated 160 3-10 year-old children, as well as their parents or guardians. Continue reading Pennington Foundation Renews Support for PRIME TIME across Greater Baton Rouge

ST. Tammany Parish hosts RELIC programs

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RELIC participants in Madisonville

Readings in Literature and Culture (RELIC) programs are underway in all four major regions of the state this year, with initial reports demonstrating the programs’ consistent public appeal. Despite winter storms that shut down many parts of the South, our longtime partners at St. Tammany Parish Public Library continue to host successful programs.

At the Madisonville branch, “Louisiana Characters: Biographies of the Bayou State” concluded with readers praising the importance of the humanities and the content of the RELIC programs. Continue reading ST. Tammany Parish hosts RELIC programs