Descent, by LSU Press poet Kathryn Stripling Byer, received the 2013 SIBA Book Award in poetry. The awards, presented by the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance, “recognize great books of southern origin.”
A native of Georgia, Byer has lived in the western North Carolina mountains since receiving a graduate degree from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, where she studied with Allen Tate, Robert Watson and Fred Chappell. Her several books of poetry have received honors from the Associated Writing Programs, the Academy of American Poets, and the Fellowship of Southern Writers. Descent is Byer’s sixth poetry collection.
Navigating the dangerous currents of family and race, Descent confronts the legacy of southern memory, where too often “it’s safer to stay blind.” Beginning with Morning Train, a response to Georgia blues musician Precious Bryant, Byer sings her way through a search for identity, recalling the hardscrabble lives of her family in the sequence Drought Days, and facing her inheritance as a white southern woman growing up amid racial division and violence.
The poet encounters her own naive complicity in southern racism and challenges the narrative of her homeland, the Gone with the Wind mythology that still haunts the region. Ultimately, Descent creates a fragile reconciliation between past and present, calling over and over again to celebrate being, as in the book’s closing manifesto, Here. Where I am.
Author, professor and architect J. Michael Desmond will discuss his latest book, The Architecture of LSU from LSU Press, during a Foundation for Historical Louisiana Heritage Lecture, scheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday in the East Room of the Old Governor’s Mansion, 502 North Blvd. in Baton Rouge.
The lecture will begin at 6:30 p.m. and be followed by a book signing.
Desmond, the Emogene Pliner Professor for the LSU School of Architecture, has taught architectural history and design for 25 years.
The lecture is free for FHL members and $10 for guests. Pre-register at fhl.org or call (225) 387-2464. Calandro’s Select Cellars and Fine Wines will host the reception.
Edward T. Haslam, author of Dr. Mary’s Monkey: How the Unsolved Murder of a Doctor, a Secret Laboratory in New Orleans and Cancer-Causing Monkey Viruses are Linked to Lee Harvey ... Assassination and Emerging Global Epidemics, will host a one-day symposium with panelists on the implications of the 1964 murder of New Orleans physician Dr. Mary Sherman.
The symposium is scheduled for 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday in Room 114 of Miller Hall at the corner Calhoun and Loyola streets on the Loyola University campus in New Orleans.
The $20 admission comes with a book, either Dr. Mary’s Monkey, Me & Lee or A Certain Arrogance.
Preregistration is required. Visit trineday.com/Loyola or call (800) 556-2012.
Book Bunch, where children ages 7-11 discuss their favorite and least favorite books of the season, meets at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Zachary Branch Library, 1900 Church St. Refreshments will be served. Call (225) 658-1860 to register.
Compiled by Advocate staff
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