Dr. Bourque visits with Dr. Daspit (back to camera) and an S.I. Fellow during a watermelon break.

Dr. Bourque visits with Dr. Daspit (back to camera) and an S.I. Fellow during a watermelon break.

Louisiana’s official poet laureate, Dr. Darryl Bourque, is a local Acadiana resident (Marais Bouleur community near Church Point, Acadia Parish) and retired creative writing professor and English Department Head at the University of Louisiana-Lafayette.  He’s also a friend and supporter of our Acadiana Writing Project Site.  He annually hosts a one-day poetry workshop at his ancestral family homestead for the Site’s Summer Institute, and today was the day, so I tagged along.

Dr. Bourque’s house and grounds are a real treat to behold.  The buildings are authentic relics, an Acadian style farm home from  generations past, exceptionally maintained but also preserving the rustic character.  Lush greenery and landscaped sitting areas surround the main house.

Even in the intemperate heat and humidity of early July, sitting outdoors to write and reflect is irresistable.

I went to Marais Bouleur happily today because I haven’t written much creative lately, and as a writing teacher/practitioner, I’ve been a little down on myself for that.  Dr. Bourque stirred the fount of invention as he led the group through three inventive exercises.  I ended the day with some good material that I hope to revise and refine in the days to come.   Here’s a tryout of a few lines, for example, that came from studying the images on a Christmas card that I drew out of a sack of cards for one of the exercises.  The card showed two heavenly heralds playing musical instruments.  I’m not sure if I’ll leave it like this or change it into something else, but in just a few minutes of word play, here’s what happened:

A Devotional

In my winter wilderness of woe

teach me to sing

a summer song,

a celestial sonnet

fit for immortal tongues.

The poet's family homestead

The poet laureate's family home

I have to confess, they lyrics to “Come Thou Fount” echoed in the  corners of my mind during the process.  The influence is obvious.  If I have any concern for those five lines, it’s the first one.  I  like the alliteration, but I’m concerned they sound a little phony.  But I had to use the words wilderness and winter in the poem, because those were two of my five “pool words” that I had to work into each of the three exercises.

Anyway, what a day!  Thanks, Darryl Bourque:  poet,  friend of teachers, and the host with the most.