Thursday, March 2, 2017


This week, I received the first copies of Sifting Red Dirt, my poetic offering for the year 2017. The cover, as usual, is a photograph of the unique glass work of Karen Bourque, a glass artist in Church Point, Louisiana. When I look at the beautiful glass pieces Karen renders to be photographed for the book covers of my poetry, I feel especially blessed to have her artwork in my home and on the book covers.

In the "Author's Note" of Sifting Red Dirt, I speak of the influence Karen has had on my work, and Border Press felt that the best introduction to this volume would be through the note about Karen's art being so compatible with my books:

"Last year I published a book of poetry featuring my Cajun ancestors about whom I had no knowledge until I reached my forties, and after the book, A Slow Moving Stream, appeared and I gave several readings, my maternal ancestors began to rival those paternal ancestors for inclusion in a book. They appeared in old photographs I had put away, in dreams, and in cogent memories...So I went to Mississippi where my great grandmother, Dora Runnels Greenlaw, was born and photographed a red hill near Brandon, Mississippi, then sent it to Karen Bourque of Church Point, Louisiana, who has rendered many of the wonderful glass pieces for covers of my books of poetry. Almost immediately, I was assailed with doubts about writing a book about them and announced I was finished before I began.

However, when I returned to Louisiana from my spring/summer stay in Sewanee, Tennessee and met for dinner with Karen and her husband, Darrell, former poet laureate of Louisiana, Karen gifted me with Brown Cotton, Red Hills, a wonderful glass piece. Karen gently placed her feet at my back, along with those deceased family members who had appeared in my dreams, and I began writing Sifting Red Dirt. Although it is among 46 books I could not have written without the support of Dr. Victoria I. Sullivan, owner of Border Press, during the last ten years Karen has become an intuitive co-creator in my work. Her glass pieces hang in my home in New Iberia, Louisiana and in the cottage at Sewanee, Tennessee, and one of the poems in Sifting Red Dirt is about her work."

Dr. Mary Ann Wilson, professor of English, University of Louisiana at Lafayette, best describes the poems in Sifting Red Dirt on the back cover as "resist[ing] an easy nostalgia but instead drill down to the core of feeling and memory...the poetry "taking us to the sources of personal and cultural identity — family and place..." Also, Dr. Darrell Bourque endorses the volume with a comment about the poems concerning "our mostly buried lives that shape us and define us in ways that are hardly explicable...Diane's story would not have been complete without those memories rising into language..."

Karen is working on another glass piece to illustrate one poem I've written about Prairie des femmes, Louisiana that will be among photographs of two or three glass pieces she created for my book covers. The photos will be featured alongside several of my poems in the fall/winter issue of Pinyon Review.

One of Karen Bourque's glass pieces is permanently exhibited in the Ernest J. Gaines Center, an international center for scholarship about the work of Gaines at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette; another was featured at the Louisiana Book Festival in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and many hang in homes and churches throughout Acadiana. Her notes about the photographs of glass work on the covers of my books of poetry have appeared in several volumes and could be classified as "prose poems."


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