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Shreveport Regional Arts Council

Poetic License

Ashley Mace Havird is the current Caddo Parish Poet Laureate

Poetic License

Photo by Casey Jones.

Caddo Parish Poet Laureate Ashley Mace Havird.

Louisiana loves its literary artists: Tennessee Williams, Ernest Gaines, James Lee Burke, Walker Percy, Kate Chopin. For hundreds of years, the state’s mix of cultures, sultry summers, and landscapes teeming with stinging and slithering creatures have inspired novelists and poets to pen its rich literary legacy. We celebrate these artists with “Stella” shouting contests, literary pilgrimages to the places they fictionalized, the renowned writing marathon in New Orleans, and most recently with a “Scrawl Crawl” through the richly cultural nine blocks of Shreveport Common in downtown Shreveport.

Northwest Louisiana writer Ashley Mace Havird, Poet Laureate for the Parish of Caddo, captures the spirit of the state in her work:

Summers in Louisiana,

cicadas sing themselves out of body,

slit their own backs, escape with wings of glass.

Come morning, brown shells, common curiosities,

cling to cannas, tree trunks, blades of liriope . . .

          From The Garden of the Fugitives

Havird has been a resident of Caddo Parish for thirty years and a publishing poet for twenty-five. The Garden of the Fugitives won the X. J. Kennedy Poetry Prize, and her novel Lightningstruck won the Ferrol Sams Award for Fiction. Havird draws her inspiration to write from a passion for the landscape of Louisiana and her interest in this state’s unique natural world. She is fascinated by the complex relationship of humans with the natural world at large, and as Poet Laureate, she hopes to give more visibility to the many diverse poets throughout Caddo Parish.

“It is such an honor to serve as the Caddo Parish Poet Laureate, and I am excited by this opportunity to advance poetry within my home parish,” said Havird. “I’ve seen first-hand the joy and satisfaction individuals feel when they craft works of literature. I believe that reading and writing poetry inspires in an almost literal sense; it is life-giving in this age of sound bites and shallow generalizations.”

Havird and SRAC are planning to host a second Scrawl Crawl in 2019. Havird has also begun a series of group readings, which began in January and will include a reading on March 7 in conjunction with the Literary Critique for Critical Mass, an annual exhibition and performance showcase.

To learn more about what Caddo Parish and the Shreveport Regional Arts Council are doing to promote the literary arts in Northwest Louisiana, including the opportunity for professional literary critique and a chance to compete for 2019 Best of Show Literary Artist during Critical Mass 7 on March 7 and 8, 2019, visit shrevearts.org.

www.shrevearts.org