Tag Archives: st denis

Fixin’ to Get Writing Again

Leaving out the discussion concerning "fixin' to" being a renowned Southern colloquialism which often draws curious looks from people around the world (and up north and out west, North being anywhere above Shreveport, Louisiana to me) I recently noticed the majority of my writing gets done during the fall and winter months for some reason.

I finish books in the Spring and Summer but write the majority of the pages during the cooler months (again, cooler being a relative term since we're often in short sleeves in the middle of winter). Maybe it has something to do with that being the time of the year I used to hunt and my body is just inclined to be doing something when the leaves fall.

In anticipation of that I obtained the Southern Writer's Kit, pictured below. I actually got one in this flavor and one in Apple Pie flavor but apparently my better half believed the latter was actually liquid apple pie of some kind because I've only had a few sips but the bottle is about 3/4 gone. And she's not a drinker. 

moonshine-1The Apple Pie version is 20% alcohol (40 proof if I have my math right) while the original version pictured here is 50% alcohol (100 proof) which is more my style. I am under the firm belief that a cocktail means you put ice in the glass with the Bourbon and anything more than that is approaching a sin. This particular beverage is best sipped straight from the jar.

As a side note, one of my great grandfather's brothers was a moonshiner in Louisiana back in the day so my taste for the mash drippings may be hereditary. In addition, My great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandfather, Louis Juchereau de St. Denis, the founder of my home town Natchitoches, La., cited the number of wild grapes growing in that area and their potential for winemaking as one of the reason he chose to place the fort and settlement at that location.

So with all that being said, I'm about to put my nose to the grindstone and start spinning the tales again.

The Louisiana Studies Conference at NSU – Natchitoches

For the third year I was invited to, and did, speak at the Louisiana Studies Conference at my undergraduate alma mater Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, La.

Before I discuss it I wanted to give a big thanks to all of the people involved in putting on the conference. Dr. Shane Rasmussen, the Director of the Louisiana Folklife Center, has made great efforts in developing the Folklife Center and is responsible not only for this conference but also the Folklife Festival held each summer. Although he will be the first to admit that he couldn't do it without the assistance of many others including Shelia Thompson from the Folklife Center. Dr. Lisa Abney, the Vice President of Academic and Student Affairs as well as a Professor of English at NSU is also a co-chair of the seminar and a frequent speaker and/or moderator at the conference. There are many, many more people involved than I have mentioned but I wanted to be sure and name these three.

I've been to a number of legal continuing education seminars and writers conferences and have never seen one where things go as smoothly as the Louisiana Studies Conference.

The conference seems to be growing in size as well but I would really like to see more of the public turn out for this. The topics are always interesting, you can see this year's program brochure and topics at this link, and since it is free to the general public it is an opportunity that is being missed by many.

If any of my readers are interested in the conference or any other information please feel free to email me and I will be glad to discuss it with them and I'll even send them a reminder next year when the info for the conference is released.  In addition to the conference being great it is held on the Northwestern State University campus so those people attending can also take the opportunity to visit Natchitoches, the oldest city in the Louisiana Purchase (300 years old this year) and a city founded by an ancestor of mine, Louis Juchereau de St. Denis.

Dr. Rasmussen announced that the theme for next year's conference is "Louisiana: A Cultural Crossroads", paying homage to the El Camino Real as well as the Mississippi and Red Rivers which provided water passages from the northern areas to the Gulf of Mexico.

As soon as he announced the theme an idea for my talk next year, as well as a paper for the Louisiana Folklife Journal, popped into my head.  So next year the tentative title for my presentation will be  "Voodoo, Hoodoo and the Blues", which should be very interesting to research and write and, since I'll have a lot of blues music as a part of the presentation, should be fun for the people who attend. 

More Research Material!

LA papers

In addition to the twelve books I have scattered around the house and uncountable number of webpages saved on my computer I just received in another 175 pages from Mary Linn Wernet, Associate Professor, Head Archivist and University Records Officer at the Cammie G. Henry Research Center, Watson Library, at my alma mater Northwestern State University of Louisiana.

I've always found it fascinating how with just a quick email or phone calls dedicated intellectuals from around the world will offer you the benefit of their knowledge and their work on a specific topic if you just ask. Of course, I'll remember all of them in the acknowledgements to the book but when writing about a subject as monumental as Louisiana's history it's hard to express exactly how much help they've been. 

At the moment I'm trying to sort out a battle that the founder of Natchitoches, Louis Juchereau de St. Denis,was in. Legend has it the battle occurred on the banks of a now dry lake bed near Sang Pour Sang hill outside of Cloutierville. However, in speaking with numerous scholars on the topic they've opened my eyes to a new theory that the battle actually occurred much closer to Natchitoches.

Now to figure out which version to use!