This year the Festival of Words brings to the small town of Grand Coteau, Louisiana, Naomi Shihab Nye, the author and/or editor of more than 30 volumes of poetry as well as young adult novels and children’s books. Nye, the recipient of numerous awards, including a Guggenheim, will teach and inspire children and adults in community poetry workshops. A Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets, Nye will sleep in a local bed and breakfast, will read poetry in a community chapel, and will listen to teenagers read their own poems. Children who have never met an author in their lives will meet Naomi Shihab Nye, an internationally renowned poet and spokesperson for peace. Residents and visitors, youth and adults will get to listen to, learn from and interact with Naomi Shihab Nye in a friendly and intimate setting. Because Poetry is for Everyone. Even in rural Louisiana, the Festival of Words believes words, poetry, literature, are for everyone.
And that’s not all! The Festival of Words 2013 features 6 authors and spoken word artists, a community stage, drive-by poetry, writing workshops, food, a book sale and lots of fun! Please consider donating, to help pay expenses of all six visiting authors and teaching artists. The Festival reaches out to the rural, under-served communities of St. Landry, St.. Martin and Lafayette parishes of Louisiana. This literary arts festival began six years ago in the open mic studio space of Casa Azul Gifts in picturesque Grand Coteau, Louisiana (population: 1,040). Who creates an open mic in a town with a population of 1,040? Someone who believes that verse is for everyone. The Festival of Words knew from the start, Poetry is for Everyone, and the adrenaline-driven, starry-eyed organizers ignited a fabulous outreach program to reel in the cautious bystanders who thought they didn’t like poetry. Since then, the Festival of Words has changed minds, and changed lives. The event has grown from a small, but poetically vocal group of about a hundred poetry/verse/story lovers to an event that touches the lives of more than 750 folks of all ages from across the South – and we are still growing. The youth and families we work to engage live in parishes that experience some of the highest rates of illiteracy in Louisiana, and we intentionally utilize writers, forms, and events designed to engage these nontraditional audiences.
OUTREACH IS EVERYTHING: The Festival of Words is different from other literary festivals in that we will turn metaphorical flips in the streets, get on our knees and shout poems of love. We will do anything (almost) to convince people that poetry is for them. We are the only community-based literary arts festival within a seventy-five mile radius and one of the most insistently inclusive.
LOSS OF FUNDING: Funding for the Festival of Words has been effected by many factors including the economic slow down, the BP disaster and drastic reductions in state grants available. Now we turn to you, the enlightened public, to help our youth, and the Festival of Words. We ask for your monetary support; $1, or $5, or $500–whatever you can offer will be graciously accepted.
AUTHORS: The 2013 Festival of Words will feature six nationally recognized authors, three poets, one folklorist, one spoken word artist and a novelist/film maker. This years artists have roots in Acadiana, France, Martinique, the Middle East and Vietnam. Artists include award-wining authors Darrell Bourque, Rebecca Henry, Fabienne Kanor, Naomi Shihab Nye, Genaro Ky` Lý Smith and Akeem Martin. The Festival of Words... -has top notch authors teaching hands-on creative writing workshops in public schools. -has youth performing “Drive-by Poetry” in grocery stores, beauty shops, fast-food joints and all kinds of off-the-wall venues. You haven't lived until you've become the happy victim of a drive-by poem... - has novice writers reading alongside experienced authors on the community stage in an atmosphere of mutual respect and encouragement.
The Festival of Words is Slam poetry, a youth creative writing contest, spoken word readings in churches, gift shops, libraries and auto repair shops. It's creative writing workshops in public schools, antique shops and hardware stores! It's storytelling in community centers, and youth performances in the streets, in cafes and gift shops.
Your generous donation will fund:
• writing workshops in schools and community centers • performances • author travel • venue rentals • lodging for authors
Your donation will support a project that:
• helps youth write and perform their first poems • allows community elders to publicly share their stories for the first time • brings adults to their first poetry readings • provides a stage for people to read their first poems
WHY IT MATTERS: • Writing poems and stories gives people of all ages a positive means to communicate, share, and respect each other’s words and individuality. • Creative writing raises student literacy levels • Creative writing teaches problem-solving, analysis, and creative thinking • Students who participate in the arts are more likely to excel academically and professionally.
Literature and Creative Writing is self-determination, and a more humane and just society, so please help the Festival of Words. Your donation is a donation for a better world.
Featured 2013 Festival of Words literary artists :
Darrell Bourque, Rebecca Henry, Fabienne Kanor , Akeem Martin ,Naomi Shihab Nye and Genaro Ky` Lý Smith
Risks and challenges
Festival of Words is staffed by committed volunteers from all backgrounds including visual artists, poets, journalists, professors, teachers, local leaders and advocates.
Festival of Words have faced many challenges over the last six years including economy, lack of state grants, BP oil spill that affected many in our community and cutting of art programs in schools. However, we refuse to let this stop our goal of sharing the power of writing to our audience. The youth and families we work to engage live in parishes that experience some of the highest rates of illiteracy in Louisiana, and we intentionally utilize writers, forms, and events designed to engage these nontraditional audiences.
Therefore, we engage and create collaborations with concerned teachers, writers, parents and citizens who want to inspire others on the benefits of writing. We have chosen many nontraditional venues, have done community outreach to get our message and have built a dedicated audience that grows year by year.
- (28 days)