Southeastern professor named Louisiana poet laureate

Tuesday, August 15, 2017 Jack Bedell
by: Rene Abadie

     HAMMOND – Southeastern Louisiana University Professor of English Jack Bedell of Hammond has been named the new poet laureate for the State of Louisiana by Gov. John Bel Edwards.
     Through a process coordinated by the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities, the governor tapped Bedell to succeed Professor Peter Cooley of Tulane University, who served in that position since 2015. Nominees must have published works in books, anthologies, literary journals or magazines. The committee is charged with selecting nominees who reflect the diverse cultures and heritage of Louisiana.
     “Jack Bedell’s love for Louisiana is evident in his work, and I’m confident that he will serve honorably as the state’s poet laureate,” said Gov. Edwards. “I want to thank the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities for leading this search, and I congratulate all of the nominees whose writings capture the heart of the people and places that make our state a unique and wonderful place to call home.”          
     “I am stunned and honored by Gov. Edwards naming me Louisiana Poet Laureate,” said Bedell. “Knowing the quality of the writers who have preceded in the post, I have a hard time seeing myself as a member of the group. I owe Louisiana a profound debt. I think my work shows the love I have for my native state and for the people, places and traditions that have formed such a beautiful life for me and my family. I cannot wait to get started serving my term so I can repay a little of that debt by shining a light on the great poetry that is being produced all over Louisiana.”
     “The selection of Professor Bedell for State Poet Laureate is an honor well deserved,” said Tena L. Golding, interim provost and vice president for academic affairs. “His work reflects the hard working people of Louisiana and their culture. Southeastern is proud to share his talents with so many others through this selection.”
     “Since 1942, the post of the State Poet Laureate has been occupied by writers whose poetry reflects the region’s unique and rich culture,” said David Hanson, head of the Southeastern Department of English. “Jack Bedell’s poetry sustains that tradition with unfailing skill, thoughtfulness and engaging language. He well deserves his place in this historic success of admired writers.”
     The author of nine books of poetry, Bedell teaches creative writing to Southeastern students. He is a native of the Houma-Thibodaux area and joined the Southeastern faculty in 1992. In addition to teaching, he is editor of “Louisiana Literature,” a literary journal published by Southeastern, and serves as director of Louisiana Literature Press.
     Among his works are “Come Rain, Come Shine,” “What Passes for Love,” “At the Bonehouse,” and “Revenant.” Due to be released in 2018 is his new book “No Brother, This Storm.” Bedell has had numerous poems published in anthologies and journals.
     Bedell is the recipient of numerous awards and honors, including having been nominated to serve as state Poet Laureate four times. He was honored with the Governor’s Award for Artistic Achievement in 2007, earned the 2005 Special Humanities Award from the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities and was honored with Southeastern’s President’s Award for Excellence in Artistic Activity in 1997, one of the highest awards presented by the university to faculty and staff.
     Bedell received his doctorate in English from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, a master’s of fine arts degree in creative writing from the University of Arkansas, and his master’s and bachelor’s degrees in English from Northwestern State University in Natchitoches.

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