Throughout Louisiana there are pockets of literary communities that act as gravitational forces for poets and writers from across the country -- Grand Coteau, New Orleans, and Lake Charles to name a few. Our literary community isn't anything new; McNeese boasts one of the top fifty creative writing MFA programs in the country which draws great literary talent and has produced a constant stream of skilled poets and writers since 1981.
This past year, Lake Charles became home to at least four reading series all running simultaneously with one another and each covering a specific reading platform. McNeese holds readings year round that invite widely published poets and writers from across the nation to come hold individual conferences with MFA students as well as public readings. Stellar Beans also holds a regular open mic night that incorporates slam and performance poetry into the mix.
Back in January 2011, the Arts Council partnered with the Porch Coffee House & Cafe to co-sponsor a monthly reading series that focuses on both unpublished and published writers in the area, and the First Friday Reading Series has become one of our favorite events to look forward to each month. In the past year we've featured both poetry and fiction readings by MFA students, PhD candidates at ULL, Darrell Bourque, our previous Louisiana Poet Laureate, the Bayou Writers Group, and local writers.
Tonight our First Friday Reading Series continues with a fiction reading by J.D. Hibbitts and Scott Thomason at the Porch. The reading is free and begins at 7 pm. Both Hibbitts and Thomason are in their final semester at McNeese's MFA program. Also this weekend, McNeese is hosting a poetry reading by Arkansas poet Greg Brownderville on Saturday at 7:30 pm in the LaJeunesse Room in the Old Ranch on campus. In order to create a supply of readings, the community must show a demand, so get out this weekend to support your literary scene!