Upcoming RELIC Program – “Louisiana Characters: Biographies of the Bayou”



The Head Quarters of the Vermilion Parish Library at 405 East Saint Victor in Abbeville will host a six-week series of readings and discussions about five noteworthy Louisiana lives who are part of our historical heritage.  The program is entitled “Louisiana Characters: Biographies of the Bayou State.”  It is funded by the Vermilion Parish Library and sponsored by the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities.

The program is free and open to the public and will be held on Thursdays from 6:00 to 8:00 p. m. beginning on March 13 and concluding on April 24 (Thursday April 17 will be skipped over) for a total of six sessions.  Those interested in attending are encouraged to register in advance at the library.

“Louisiana Characters” will be facilitated by Jack Ferstel of the Department of English at the University of Louisiana-Lafayette. The program will begin with an inquiry into the nature and uses of biography and how the genre relates to the culture and history of Louisiana, and it will then examine four biographies and one autobiography.  The six sessions are entitled: 1) Understanding through Biography: The Nature and Approach of Biographical Study; 2) The Baroness de Pontalba: A Family Affair; 3) Kate Chopin: A Latter-Day Awakening; 4) Huey P. Long: Debatable Goals, Dubious Means; 5) Louis Armstrong: Dixieland’s Pied Piper to the World; 6) Norma Wallace: Crescent City Madam.  The texts that will serve as the basis for the session discussions are: Christina Vella’s Intimate Enemies: The Two Worlds of Baroness de Pontalba; Emily Toth’s Unveiling Kate Chopin; Louis Armstrong’s Satchmo: My Life in New Orleans; William Ivy Hair’s The Kingfish and His Realm: The Life and Times of Huey Long and Christine Wiltz’s The Last Madam: A Life in the New Orleans Underground.

“This program will explore the richness and uniqueness of Louisiana’s people over nearly three centuries through the lens of biography and autobiography,” observed Jim Segreto, Director of Library Reading Programs for the LEH.  He added, “There are five personalities of controversial or legendary significance to be studied in books through the give and take of the reading and discussion format.”  He added, “There are no ‘tests’ to take, and everyone has something important to say and will come away with much to think about, because both the reading public and the discussion facilitators will be sharing ideas in a free-wheeling forum.”

Registration is encouraged due to the limited amount of space and sets of books. For more information or to register call Sue Trahan at 337-893-2674.