On Saturday, Feb. 23, scholars from home and abroad will discuss the state’s natural history through the centuries at The Historic New Orleans Collection’s 18th annual Williams Research Center Symposium.

An all-day event, “Seeking the Unknown: Perspectives on Louisiana’s Natural History” will take place at the Hotel Monteleone, 214 Royal St. in New Orleans, and will feature presentations by faculty members from LSU, Louisiana Tech University, McNeese State University, Tulane University, the University of British Columbia, and the University of Mississippi, as well as independent art historians and curators. Robert A. Thomas, director of the Loyola University Center for Environmental Communication, will serve as the symposium moderator. With sessions on precolonial American Indians, early naturalists, John James Audubon, and more, the presentations will examine several centuries’ worth of human interactions with the Louisiana environment.

Registration is required and early registration rates range between $40 and $75. Rates will increase to $85 after Feb. 1. Registration fees include the full day of presentations plus a special preview of the companion exhibition Seeking the Unknown: Natural History Observations in Louisiana, 1698–1840, 6 p.m.-8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 22, at THNOC, 533 Royal St. Attendees will have an opportunity to meet speakers and exhibition curators. For more information, including a complete schedule of talks and links to online registration, visit http://www.hnoc.org/programs/symposia.html.

The 2013 Williams Research Center Symposium is presented by The Historic New Orleans Collection with support from ClearBridge Advisors, A Legg Mason Company; the Consulate General of Canada; Hotel Monteleone; LaPorte, CPAs and Business Advisors; Premium Parking; Solaris Garage; and Villere & Co.

Founded in 1966, The Historic New Orleans Collection is a nonprofit museum, research center and publisher dedicated to the study and preservation of the history and culture of New Orleans and the Gulf South region. For more information about The Historic New Orleans Collection, visit http://www.hnoc.org or call (504) 523-4662.

Poetry Contest honorees

The Tennessee Williams New Orleans Literary Festival has announced the grand prize winner and 10 finalists in its 3rd Annual Poetry Contest. Amie Whittemore of Wisconsin was selected for the grand prize for her poem “Blackberry Season.”

“I choose ‘Blackberry Season’ for its balance of control and absolute wildness,” Judge Ava Leavell Haymon said. “The deliberate line and stanza breaks give the reader a sense of shape and control before we read the first word, and beyond that provide us extra layers of meaning. Because of this, we trust this poet and let go into a world of images altogether new. Example, in the first poem, ‘Velleity,’: in the voice of a mother speaking of a very young daughter, the poem tells us, ‘I called her viridian, may apple, life raft,/and her babbling matured into a willow’s green straps.’ By the end of the poem, the growing daughter is covered with tattoos, ‘maps of the world drawn//on her arms.’ As in this example, all three poems, are odd, stimulating, deeply charged, unsentimental, and constructed with a craft that enables us to absorb them. A pleasure to read.”

Other finalists in the contest are: D. Brian Anderson, Texas, for “Uncertain Principles”; Jesse Mavro Diamond, Massachusetts, for “Swimming the Hellespont”; Jami Donley, Louisiana, for “Family History”; Kima Jones, California, for “The Anatomy of Forgiveness”; Fleming Meeks, New Jersey for “Self-Portrait at Fifty-Six”; Ann Plicque, Louisiana, for “Tertiary Losses”; Leona Sevick, Maryland for “The Corpse of Memory”; John Warner Smith, Louisiana, for “Hunting Dragonflies”; and Christine Valentor, Illinois, for “The Metaphysical in Eleven Different Dimensions.”

Whittemore’s poems will appear in Louisiana Cultural Vistas. Visit http://www.leh.org for more information about the magazine.

She will also receive $1,000, a VIP All Access Pass for the 27th annual Festival, and a public reading at the 2013 Festival.

EBR Parish Library

Author/storyteller/illustrator Martha Gabour Manuel will speak about her new crime thriller, Murder on False River, 1:30 p.m.-3 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 2, at Bluebonnet Regional branch, 9200 Bluebonnet Blvd. Manuel will offer insights on the writing process.

Copies of her book will be available for purchase and signing. Bookmarks and pens are available to all participants. Readers are welcome to learn more about this book and follow the author on her website at http://www.marthamanuel.com.

Book clubs:

  • ?Central Book Club will meet at Central branch, 11260 Joor Road, at 11:30 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 31. Members will discuss Sackett’s Land by Louie L’Amour.
  • ?Science Fiction Book Club will meet at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 29, at Greenwell Springs Road Regional branch, 11300 Greenwell Springs Road. Members will discuss Darwin’s Radio by Greg Bear.
  • ?Compassionate Book Club will meet at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 29, at the Main branch, 7711 Goodwood Blvd. Members will discuss Behind the Beautiful Foreversby Katherine Boo.
  • ?Book Buffs will meet at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 29, at the Baker branch, 3501 Groom Road. Children ages 8-11 will take turns reading aloud from the book Meet Cecile: An American Girl by Denise Lewis Patrick. For more information or to register, call (225) 778-5960.
  • ?Zachary Teen Book Club will meet 2 p.m.-3 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 2, at the Zachary branch, 1900 Church St. Members are invited to bring a favorite romantic book to recommend to other readers. Call (225) 658-1870.

Livingston Parish Library

Friends of Livingston Libraries will hold a book sale 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 2, at the Denham Springs-Walker branch, 8101 U.S. 190 in Denham Springs.

Book club:

  • ?South Branch Bookies will meet at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 31, at the South Branch, 23477 La. 444 in Livingston. Members will discuss The Brambles by Eliza Minot.

Library links

East Baton Rouge Parish Library: http://www.ebrpl.com/.

Livingston Parish Library: http://www.livingston.lib.la.us/.

Ascension Parish Library: http://main.ascension.lib.la.us/.

West Baton Rouge Parish Library: http://www1.youseemore.com/WBatonRouge/default.asp.

Iberville Parish Library: http://www.iberville.lib.la.us/.

West Feliciana Parish Library: http://wfplibrary.org/.

Audubon Regional Library: http://www2.youseemore.com/AUDUBON/.

Lafayette Public Library: http://lafayettepubliclibrary.org/.

St. James Parish Library: http://www.stjames.lib.la.us/.

St. John the Baptist Parish Library: http://www.stjohn.lib.la.us/.

St. Charles Parish Library: http://www.myscpl.org/.

Jefferson Parish Library: http://www.jefferson.lib.la.us/.

New Orleans Public Library: http://nutrias.org/.

St. Bernard Parish Library: http://www.stbernard.lib.la.us/.

St. Tammany Parish Library: http://www.sttammany.lib.la.us/home_flash.html.

St. Martin Parish Library: http://www.stmartinparishlibrary.org.

Writers’ group

Barnes & Noble Westbank, 1601B West Bank Expressway in Harvey, is hosting a Writers’ Group 6 p.m.-8 p.m. on Tuesdays.

This is a networking and critiquing forum for writers of all skill levels. Be prepared to read what you are working on, to take constructive criticism and to give it.

WGA Meeting

Writers’ Guild of Acadiana will meet at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 29, at Barnes & Noble, 5705 Johnston St. in Lafayette. The guild is an organization made up of local writers, published and unpublished, who meet on the last Tuesday of the month to share and gain knowledge in the craft of writing. Beginners and veterans of the writing industry are all welcome.


Jen Lancaster, author of Here I Go Again, will sign copies of her book 6 p.m.-7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 29, at Garden District Book Shop, 2727 Prytania St. in New Orleans.

Edward J. Branley, author of Legendary Locals Of New Orleans, will sign copies of his book at 6 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 31, at Octavia Books, 513 Octavia St. in New Orleans.

Jennifer Barnes Maggio, author of Overhwhelmed: The Life of a Single Mom, will sign copies of her book at 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 1, at Healing Place Church, 19202 Highland Road.

Mikki Zimmerman, author of Can I Get a Witness? 21 Frustrations of a Black Woman (Including Me), will sign copies of her book at 1 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 2, at Westbank Barnes & Noble, 1601B West Bank Expressway, Harvey.

Van Mayhall, author of Judas the Apostle, will sign copies of his book at 3 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 2, at Barnes & Noble Premier Center II, 3414 U.S. 190, Suite 10, Mandeville.

Kerry Dunn, author of Joe Peace, will sign copies of his book at 3 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 2, at Barnes & Noble, 2590 CitiPlace Court.

Johnette Downing, author of Why the Possum has a Large Grin, will sign copies of her book at noon Friday, Feb. 1, at A Tisket A Tasket Book Shop, 910 Decatur St. in New Orleans.

Items for Book Events were provided by The Historic New Orleans Collection, The Tennessee Williams New Orleans Literary Festival, East Baton Rouge Parish Library, Livingston Parish Library, Barnes & Noble and Writers’ Guild of Acadiana.