Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Writers and Readers

When the West Feliciana Parish Police Jury in midsummer approved a bid of $2.7 million to construct a new library, old timers considered it a natural progression in an area that has traditionally been devoted to the literary arts. The town had one of the state’s earliest public libraries, and the surrounding plantations had extensive private libraries of their own. Today St. Francisville is home for several published authors and retired university literature professors.
Besides looking forward to the spacious new library, today’s booklovers anticipate with great relish a special event dubbed A Gathering of Writers and Readers, begun in 2007 and now under the auspices of Arts For All, the non-profit umbrella agency for all arts in West Feliciana. The celebration brings together published authors with readers who might not otherwise have the opportunity to hear writers read from and discuss their work.
Scheduled for Saturday, February 22, 2014, at Hemingbough Cultural Arts Center just south of St. Francisville, the all-day event begins at 8:30 a.m. and will be moderated by SLU professor and former bookstore owner Charles Elliott, himself a writer, film director and noted character. Four professional authors will be featured, as well as distinguished repeat guest Ernest Gaines, recent recipient of the National Medal of Arts, who will be honored for his extraordinary literary contributions, and featured writers from previous years are invited to “gather” again.
Dr. Wiley Cash, nationally acclaimed award-winning fiction author, had his first novel, A Land More Kind Than Home, selected as a New York Times Notable Book. A North Carolina native, Cash earned his PhD at UL Lafayette and studied under writer-in-residence emeritus Ernest J. Gaines. It was there that he began the bestselling book A Land More Kind than Home, which NPR called “great Gothic Southern fiction filled with whiskey, guns and snake-handling.” His second book, the just-released This Dark Road to Mercy, promises to be just as riveting, a novel of love and atonement, blood and vengeance.
Rheta Grimsley Johnson is a nationally syndicated newspaper columnist and author of nonfiction books including Poor Man’s Provence—Finding Myself in Cajun Louisiana about time spent in Henderson in the Atchafalaya Basin. Dr. Julie Kane, Northwestern State University professor and Louisiana’s past Poet Laureate, has published five volumes of poetry, and her poems have appeared in dozens of anthologies and journals. Both Cash and Kane are experienced university professors, and Johnson has been on the short list for a Pulitzer for journalism; her popular folksy columns appear in Baton Rouge’s The Advocate. Anne Butler writes nonfiction books preserving Louisiana history and culture, as well as children’s books, hundreds of articles for magazines and newspapers, and true crime, including Weep for the Living; as a crime writer she had certainly not intended to become an actual participant, but when she was shot five times, she managed to get a good book out of even that experience. Her more recent books  Louisiana Hwy. 1  and Main Streets of Louisiana include beautiful color images by Louisiana photographer Henry Cancienne.
These diverse authors have been specifically chosen to give the audience a well-balanced appreciation for the art of literature---poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, nonfiction, all with great appeal to Louisiana readers. They will share their creative processes and works; participants, including several students on scholarships, are encouraged to ask questions and will have an opportunity to interact with the authors. Seating is limited. For online information visit Tickets, $35, may be purchased at and include parking, individual author presentations as well as moderated panel discussions, book signings, refreshments, lunch and a dessert reception with authors.
This program is supported in part by a grant from the Louisiana Division of the Arts, Office of Cultural Development, Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism, in cooperation with the Louisiana State Arts Council, the Greater Baton Rouge Arts Council, and the National Endowment for the Arts, a Federal agency.  A grant from Entergy allowed Arts for All to invite Wiley Cash, who will be the Entergy Author for this event.
wiley cash
 Dr. Wiley Cash

Rhea Grimsley Johnson

Dr. Julie Kane

Anne Butler