Funded! This project was successfully funded on October 24, 2012.

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The Festival of Words, set in rural Louisiana, brings the wonder of the written and spoken word to young students.

The Festival of Words believes that poems and stories are for everyone everywhere, including rural South Louisiana.

The Festival of Words reaches out to the rural communities of St. Landry, St.. Martin and Lafayette parishes of Louisiana.
The Festival of Words reaches out to the rural communities of St. Landry, St.. Martin and Lafayette parishes of Louisiana.

The Festival of Words literary arts festival began five 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 first few open mic events drew a small, but dedicated audience.

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.

Drive-by poetry reading by a St. Landry Parish public school student at a kitchen shop in Grand Coteau, La.
Drive-by poetry reading by a St. Landry Parish public school student at a kitchen shop in Grand Coteau, La.

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:
In the past, grants helped support the Festival of Words. But recently, due to drastic cuts in state funding, support was reduced by nearly 70%. 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.

Louisiana Poet Laureate Julie Kane reading at Casa Azul.
Louisiana Poet Laureate Julie Kane reading at Casa Azul.
The thrill of the drive-by poem.
The thrill of the drive-by poem.

AUTHORS:
The 2012 Festival of Words will feature seven nationally recognized authors,including two poets, three prose writers and two performance poets.  Julie Kane, the Poet Laureate of Louisiana, is one of the brilliant poets who will be sharing her knowledge, her skill and her poetry with the heart of rural Louisiana. Kane will read her work in the churches, the libraries and the community stage. She'll teach in the public schools and community centers. She'll do everything a poet laureate should do---she'll laureate.

Other literary artists include award-wining authors Randall Kenan, Kelly Harris, Patrice Melnick, and poetry slam champions Chancellier “Xero” Skidmore and Bonny McDonald.

Performance poet Bonny McDonald
Performance poet Bonny McDonald

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 because poetry is for everyone everywhere. 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

Young poet reading alongside an experienced poet during the Festival of Words.
Young poet reading alongside an experienced poet during the Festival of Words.

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 2012 Festival of Words literary artists
Jarvis DeBerry
Julie Kane
Kelly Harris
Randall Kenan
Bonny McDonald
Patrice Melnick

Chancelier "Xero" Skidmore

Community creative writing workshop with novelist Olympia Vernon.
Community creative writing workshop with novelist Olympia Vernon.

For more video from past Festival of Words, check out the StLandryParish YouTube channel.

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    All of the above, plus 2 books of your choice by festival authors, plus an overnight stay at the Casa Azul Bed & Breakfast (http://casaazul.homestead.com/CasitaAzul.html) in historic Grand Coteau.

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