Louisiana poet Darrell Bourque is the recipient of the 2014 Louisiana Writer Award given annually to recognize outstanding contributions to Louisiana’s literary and intellectual life exemplified by a writer’s body of work.
This year’s Louisiana Book Festival was dedicated to the memory of George Rodrigue. Darrell Bourque honors Rodrigue in his speech delivered November 1, 2014, in the House Chamber in the Louisiana State Capitol.
“It pleases me greatly to receive this award at the same time the Festival is honoring an artist who is not only a state treasure but a national and world treasure as well. George Rodrigue has done as much as any writer, sculptor, musician, or food artist to let the world know about the magic in this little piece of geography he lived and worked in his whole life. Along with his jolie blondes, and Evangelines, with his ancestors and his manifestations of Tiffany, he celebrated the acknowledged legislators as well as the unacknowledged legislators who come to us in the form of the writer, the storyteller and the poet. So we see in his long view, the Longs and Edwin Edwards alongside Ernest J. Gaines, Walker Percy and Shirley Ann Grau; Kathleen Blanco alongside Isaac Bashevis Singer, Gus Weill, James Carville, and Sophie Freud; Bobby Jindal, Jimmy Davis, Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev alongside Robert Coles, Bruno Bettelheim and John Kennedy Toole.
“George Rodrigue loved this state: its darkness and its light, its resilience and its vulnerability, everything in it from trees to his beloved dogs, its madmen and its wise women, its festival spirit and its death rituals and practices. He loved and supported the Louisiana Book Festival because he knew how valuable our narratives are whether they come to us in the form of poems, or paintings, or stories. He knew on some level, deeper than most, the value of what we keep in our libraries, public and private, in congressional libraries as well as in the libraries of our dreams. He knew that art is an act in which nothing is trivial and everything is tender. And, he knew that art is an act of remembering in which nearly everything is at stake.”
Click HERE to read the entire speech.