The Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities selected two Church Point natives to receive awards from the organization for their contributions to the study and understanding of humanities in the state.
Former Louisiana poet laureate Darrell Bourque was chosen as the 2019 Humanist of the Year, and Viola Fontenot’s A Cajun Girl’s Sharecropping Years was selected as the 2019 Humanities Book of the Year.
The awards are part of the state humanities council’s effort to honor individuals and organizations who have made significant contributions to the study and understanding of the humanities. Bourque, Fontenot, and the other award winners were honored Thursday, April 4, 2019, at the 2019 LEH Bright Lights Awards Dinner in Lafayette.
Bourque served as Louisiana’s second peer-selected poet laureate from 2007–2011, first appointed by Gov. Kathleen Blanco and then reappointed by Gov. Bobby Jindal. Bourque is a native of Church Point in Acadia Parish. He was as a professor at USL, later serving as department head and director of creative writing, and has published twelve books of poetry. Bourque is also one of the founding members of Narrative 4, an international story exchange project that works to bring about social change by cultivating radical empathy in its participants.
A Cajun Girl’s Sharecropping Years, authored by Viola Fontenot and published by the University Press of Mississippi, follows Fontenot’s life as the daughter of a sharecropper in Church Point. The book according to LEH relives various aspects of rural Cajun life, such as house chores, boucheries, fais do-do, and the classroom mantra of “I will not speak French on the school grounds anymore.” Fontenot brings a female perspective to a previously male-dominated understanding of sharecropping culture.
For more information about the council, visit www.leh.org.