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December 16, 2010

ULM Professor of English serves on statewide panel selecting next La. Poet Laureate

A University of Louisiana at Monroe professor is one of the panelists responsible for helping name Louisiana's next poet laureate.

Professor Jack Heflin is a member of a special statewide panel chaired by Dr. Michael Sartisky, president and executive director of the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities.

In addition to Heflin and Sartisky, this year's panel included Professor John Biguenet, Loyola University and LEH Board Member; Peter Cooley, Ph.D., Tulane University; David Middleton, Ph.D., Nichols State University; Reggie Young, Ph.D., University of Louisiana at Lafayette; Louisiana Humanities Center Director Brian Boyles; and Director of LSU Press MaryKatherine Callaway, director, LSU Press.

The panel has sent the names of three finalists to Governor Bobby Jindal who by statute will make the final selection subject to confirmation by the Louisiana senate. The finalists include:

• Ava Leavell Haymon, a nationally recognized poet and teacher who organizes poetry workshops and seminars throughout the state, including the Artists-in-the-Schools program in Baton Rouge, the Junior Great Books program in several parishes, and numerous classes at LSU. Her three full-length collections, The Strict Economy of Fire, Kitchen Heat, and most recently, Why the House is Made of Gingerbread, were published by LSU Press. In 2010, the Academy of American Poets featured one of her poems as "the poem of the day."

• Jack Bedell, Ph.D., a professor of the humanities at Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond and the author of seven books, including Call and Response (with Darrell Bourque, 2010), Come Rain, Come Shine (2006), and What Passes for Love (2001). His journal, Louisiana Literature, has published numerous Louisiana poets. Bedell has taught creative writing to students from the third-grade level to the graduate level. His work reflects a familiarity with daily life in the state and its people.

• Julie Kane, Ph.D., a professor of English at Northwestern State University in Natchitoches. A tireless promoter of poetry in the state, she is a recipient of the National Poetry Series Award (2002), the Donald Justice Poetry Prize (2009), and a Fulbright Scholarship (2002). In 2005, she was selected as a juror for the National Book Award in Poetry. Kane is also an astute editor and the publisher of the award-winning book, Counterpart: A South Vietnamese Naval Officer's War, as well as Umpteen Ways of Looking at a Possum: Critical and Creative Responses to Everette Maddox, and Voices of the American South. Her other collections, Jazz Funeral and Rhythm & Booze, celebrate the culture of New Orleans

According to selection guidelines, nominees must have published works in books, anthologies, literary journals or magazines. In addition, the selection committee must seek information from the general public and the literary community.

The committee must select nominees who reflect the diverse cultures and heritage of Louisiana.

Once the nominee is approved by the governor, the new poet laureate will succeed poet Darrell Bourque, Ph.D., a professor emeritus of English from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and St. Landry Parish, who has served in that position since 2008. His term ends May 20, 2011.

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