The Caddo Parish Commission has selected Ashley Mace Havird as the 2018 Caddo Parish Poet Laureate; she will serve a three-year term through March 2020. Celebrate with the Shreveport Regional Arts Council as we will host a reception and presentation honoring newly appointed Caddo Parish Poet Laureate. Havird replaces Carlos Colon, the Parish’s first Poet Laureate, who served from 2014 until his death in the fall of 2016.
The Caddo Parish Commission recognizes that the Arts are an essential part of life in Caddo Parish and that poetry provides a unique form of expression, analysis, and interpretation of life. The Commission also acknowledges SRAC as a catalyst for participation, education, development and promotion of excellence in the Arts and therefore assigned SRAC to administer the process for the selection of an outstanding Poet residing in Caddo Parish to be named Caddo Parish Poet Laureate.
Dr. Jack Bedell was asked to review the applicants for Caddo Parish Poet Laureate and to make a recommendation to the Caddo Commission, though the selection was entirely up to the Commission. Bedell said that the pool of applicants was extremely diverse and that he was impressed by each artist’s desire for outreach, education and inclusion—all important for the future of arts programming in the Caddo Parish region. Bedell recommended Havird for the position saying, “Havird is published in some of the country’s finest literary journals and has a laudable history in arts education, workshop instruction, and community outreach—all important to the civil/social responsibilities inherent to the Laureate’s duties on behalf of the Parish.”He went on to say, “Havird’s poems are incredibly well crafted, and she controls such a wide array of subjects with a deft hand. I am positive she will foster excellent programs throughout Caddo Parish celebrating and advancing interest in poetry over the course of her term as Poet Laureate, particularly among young writers.”
Havird has been a resident of Caddo Parish for 30 years and a publishing poet for 25.Her collection of poems, The Garden of the Fugitives, won the X.J. Kennedy Prize, and her novel, Lightningstruck, won the Ferrol Sams Award.As Caddo Parish Poet Laureate, she hopes to give more visibility to the many diverse poets throughout Caddo Parish by promoting or organizing readings, workshops, and poetry appreciation classes in schools, libraries, retirement communities—wherever there is interest. “Itis such an honor tobe chosen as the Caddo Parish Poet Laureate, and I am overjoyed by the opportunity tobe able to advance poetry within my home Parish,” said Havird.“I’ve seen first-hand the joy and satisfaction individuals feel when they craft works ofliterature, especially the children I have taught at the Renzi Education and Art Center,”continued Havird.“I believe that reading and writing poetry inspires inan almost literal sense; itis life-giving in this age of sound bites and shallow generalizations. Remarkable projects are underway in and around Shreveport to bridge cultural differences—the YWCA-sponsored “Dialogue on Race” series and the Hope Connections Homeless Coalition, to name only two. Poetry, which uses the beauty and power of language toreach some form of truth, can complement these efforts to make the parish a stronger, more compassionate place to live,” concluded Havird.