Ava Leavell Haymon, poet laureate of the state of Louisiana, is a poet, playwright, and teacher. Her poems have appeared in the journals Poetry, The Southern Review, Prairie Schooner, The Sun, and many others; in five chapbooks from five different independent small presses, two of which were chosen through national competitions; and in four full collections, The Strict Economy of Fire, Why the House Is Made of Gingerbread, Kitchen Heat, and Eldest Daughter, all from LSU Press. She holds the L.E. Phillabaum Poetry Award for 2010, and the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters 2011 Award in Poetry. Why the House Is Made of Gingerbread was chosen by Women’s Voices for Change as one of the 10 best poetry books of 2010.
Her plays are written for adults to perform for children, seven of them produced by Playmakers of Baton Rouge, in children’s theaters and schools throughout south Louisiana, and by a children’s theater workshop in Houston, Texas. She has performed often in collaborative concerts with musicians, dancers, actors, and other writers, and has written text for composers and dance companies. Her poems have been set to music by several contemporary composers, both classical and jazz.
She teaches poetry writing in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, during the academic year and in New Mexico in the summer, where she directs a retreat center for writers and artists. She has directed workshops and read her poems widely, in the United States and in Canada. Her commitment to teaching poetry writing is explained by Lee Fortier, a jazz trumpet teacher: You gotta do it, and you gotta pass it on.
Genaro Kỳ Lý Smith was born in Nha Trang, Vietnam in 1968. He earned a B.A. in English from California State University, Northridge in 1993. He later earned an M.A. and M.F.A. in creative writing from McNeese State University in Lake Charles, LA in 1999.
He is the author of The Land Baron’s Sun: The Story of Ly Loc and His Seven Wives (UL Press). His other works have been published in Crab Orchard Review, Xavier Review, Pembroke, Northridge Review, Amerasia Journal (UCLA), turnrow (U of Louisiana at Monroe), Scene Magazine, dis-Orient, Christmas Stories from Louisiana (UP of Mississippi), Gumbo: An Anthology of African American Writing (Doubleday/Broadway Books), Kartika Review, and Asian American Literary Review, and Blue Lyra Review.
Recently, he received the ATLAS grant by the Louisiana Board of Regents for 2013-14. He has earned first place in the Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Fellowship competition, received both the Louisiana Division of the Arts Artist Fellowship and mini-grant, second place in the Poets & Writers Exchange Program, and second place for his short story “Dailies” in 2008 from the Santa Fe Writers Program.
He currently resides in Ruston with his wife Robyn and their two daughters, Layla and Naomi. He has been teaching literature, composition, and creative writing at Louisiana Tech University since 1999.
Ann Dobie judged the nonfiction finalists. She is Professor Emerita of English at
University of Louisiana at Lafayette where she directed graduate studies in rhetoric and
the University’s writing-across-the-curriculum program. Dr. Dobie is the author (or co-
author) of seven college writing textbooks, compiler and editor of three literary
anthologies, and the author of numerous pieces of creative nonfiction, including Fifty-
Eight Days in the Cajundome Shelter, an account of the relief efforts in Lafayette
following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Her latest books are: Civil Changes: Civil
Service in Louisiana and a fourth edition of Theory Into Practice: An Introduction to
Literary Criticism. Other books are: Wide Awake in the Pelican State, Stories by
Contemporary Louisiana Writers, and Uncommonplace: Contemporary Louisiana Poems,
a companion to her anthology of fiction by Louisiana writers published in 1991. For
thirteen years she served as director of the National Writing Project in Acadiana, which
she founded in 1989. She has served as the State Coordinator of the Louisiana Writing
Project and as a consultant to the National Writing Project.