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Virtual Festival of Words planned for November

Posted at 9:02 PM, Oct 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-22 22:02:45-04

The Festival of Words celebrates another year with three amazing authors and two days of memorable events! The festival will take place Friday and Saturday, November 6 and 7 virtually. This year includes nationally recognized authors: Louisiana Poet Laureate John Warner Smith, Poet Erika Meitner and graphic memoirist Robin Ha. Festival events include creative writing workshops for students and the community, a community stage for open mic, and “Drive-by Poetry” in which youth give dramatic presentations of festival authors’ writings.

The Friday night event features a poetry presentation by John Warner Smith and Erika Meitner and Robin Ha reads from her work graphic memoir, “Almost American Girl.” On Saturday, Drive-by Poetry performers from the Magnet Academy of Cultural Arts will recite works by the featured authors. There will be an open mic and multiple creative writing workshops, which are open to the public. For more information, check out or contact Martha Garner at (337) 804-2482 or

The Festival of Words 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 as administered by the Acadiana Center for the Arts. Sponsors also include the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities and the Culture Cares Fund. This event is made possible by the Academy of American Poets with funds from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

The Festival of Words appreciates partnerships with Acadiana Open Channel, Acadiana Writing Project, Alexander Books, Lyrically Inclined, Nunu’s, St. Landry Parish Schools, St. Landry Parish Tourism and many volunteers and sponsors.


John Warner Smith is the author of four collections of poetry. His fifth collection, Our Shut Eyes: New & Selected Poems on Race in America, is forthcoming from MadHat Press. Smith began writing poetry while building a successful professional career as a public administrator and a bank executive. His last public sector position was service on the cabinet of Governor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco as Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Labor, where he led the recovery of the states workforce development system in the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Smith earned his MFA in Creative Writing from the University of New Orleans. Upon completing the MFA, he received a fellowship from the Cave Canem Foundation to attend the prestigious writing program founded by Toi Derricotte and Cornelius Eady. Smith is also a three-time participant of the Callaloo Creative Writing Workshop, where he studied under award-winning poets Tracy K. Smith and Terrance Hayes. Smith teaches English at Southern University in Baton Rouge. Since November 2007, he has directed a statewide non-profit organization dedicated to reforming public education in Louisiana.

Robin Ha grew up reading and drawing comics. At fourteen she moved to the United States from Seoul, Korea. After graduating from the Rhode Island School of Design with a BFA in illustration, she moved to New York City and started a career in the fashion industry.Her work has been published in independent comic anthologies including Secret Identities and The Strumpet, as well as in the pages of Marvel Comics and Heavy Metal Magazine. She is also the author of the New York Times bestselling comic recipe book Cook Korean!: A Comic Book with Recipes. Her most recent publication is the highly acclaimed graphic novel "Almost American Girl."

Erika Meitner is the winner of the 2018 National Jewish Book Award for Poetry and author of five books of poems: Holy Moly Carry Me; Inventory at the All-Night Drugstore; Makeshift Instructions for Vigilant Girls; and Ideal Cities, which was a 2009 National Poetry series winner; and Copia. Her poetry and prose have been widely anthologized. Born and raised in Queens and Long Island, NY, Meitner is a first-generation American: her father is from Israel; her mother was born in a refugee camp in Germany, which is where her maternal grandparents settled after surviving the Holocaust. Meitner is currently a professor of English at Virginia Tech, where she directs the MFA and undergraduate programs in Creative Writing.



Event: Zoom Public Reading and Q & A

Artists: Erika Meitner, Robin Ha and John Warner Smith

Time: 6:30 — 9:00 p.m.

Location: Zoom link at []


Event: “Drive-by Poetry”

Presenters: Students of Magnet Academy of Cultural Arts perform works of Festival of Words Authors

Time: 10 a.m.—1 p.m.

Location: Zoom link at []

Event: Awards Ceremony for Youth of Creative Writing Contest

Time: 11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Location: Zoom link at []

Event: Community Stage Open Mic + Poetry Slam

Time: 1—4 p.m.

Location: Zoom link at []



Event: Hybrid Forms: A Generative Writing Workshop with Erika Meitner

Time: 9:30 a.m.—11:20 a.m.

Location: Zoom link at []

Event: From Life to Comics: Memoir Comics Workshop with Robin Ha

Time: 1:00 p.m. — 2:50 p.m.

Location: Zoom link at []

Event: Write Along with the Louisiana Poet Laureate, John Warner Smith

Time: 3:15—5:05 p.m.

Location: Zoom link at []

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