Historical foundation to grant Preservation Awards _lowres

Ernest and Dianne Gaines

Ernest J. Gaines will be the featured Great Southern Writer at the Books Along the Teche Literary Festival in April. Submissions are due by Dec. 29 for Gaines' Student Author Contest.

The festival runs April 6-8 in downtown New Iberia. Gaines recently debuted his latest book, "The Tragedy of Brady Sims," at the 2017 National Book Festival in Washington, D.C.

"Gaines is a world-renowned novelist, short story writer and teacher. He is among the most widely-read and highly-respected contemporary authors of African-American fiction," a news release says.

The Pointe Coupee Parish native finished the work that was to make him famous, "The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman," in 1971. In 1981, he became Writer-in-Residence at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, formerly known as the University of Southwestern Louisiana. Not long into his tenure, he published "A Gathering of Old Men" (1983), followed by "A Lesson Before Dying," one of his most critically acclaimed novels, the release says.

The Baton Rouge Area Foundation sponsors the Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence Student Author Contest for Louisiana public and private school students in grades 3-12. Essays written on the topic “Heroes” will be accepted until 4 p.m. on Dec. 29.

Electronic submissions are preferred and should be emailed to gainesaward@braf.org. Paper submissions can be mailed to Ernest J. Gaines Award, Student Author Contest, Baton Rouge Area Foundation, 100 North Blvd., Suite 900, Baton Rouge, LA 70802. Essays should be 500 words or fewer.

Elementary, middle and high school divisions will be presented with first-, second- and third-place cash awards.

The winning students will be honored during a program recognizing the 2017 Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence winner, Ladee Hubbard, for her novel, “The Talented Ribkins.”

The program is set for 6:30 p.m. Jan. 18 in the Manship Theatre at the Shaw Center for the Arts, 100 Lafayette St. in Baton Rouge. A free public reception will follow the program.