Saturday, May 13, 2017


This morning, the fog on The Mountain blanketed trees, homes, and roads with an impenetrable curtain that could have caused feelings of morning gloom at Sewanee, Tennessee. However, when I went into the dining room for breakfast, I looked up at the windows facing our backyard and saw the latest glasswork of Karen Bourque that I brought back with me last week. A piece of purple colored glass with a hawk winging its way in the background cut through the somber world outside, and I decided to unveil this piece before it appears on the cover of my latest book, Above the Prairie, forthcoming through Border Press in June. There's no other word for Karen's new work — it's stunning!

Karen and I've been working together on covers for my books of poetry during the last decade, and have the kind of synchronicity that births an almost instant process: Border Press publisher, Vickie Sullivan, and I meet for lunch with Karen and her husband, Darrell Bourque, former Louisiana poet laureate, and before we fill our plates, I perceive an idea for a book of poetry, along with the title — presto. I tell Karen about the idea, sometimes sending her a photograph or the first poem, and before I can produce a dozen poems, she has begun work on one of her beautiful pieces. In today's slang about synchronicity, she "gets it."

In another life, Karen was a lab technologist, a working mother, and wife, but when she retired, she began to dedicate her talents to glasswork, and her pieces have appeared in churches, spiritual centers, the Ernest Gaines Center at the University of Louisiana in Lafayette, at the Louisiana Book Festival, and other cultural institutions and homes throughout Acadiana. She never advertises her work because the word is out about her brilliant talent. As soon as she completes a commission, and even before she completes a glass piece, someone else is at the door to her studio, seeking her artwork.

I know that my book isn't published yet, but this morning when I looked up at the soaring hawk above the Louisiana prairie in prisms of glass, my spirit lifted, and I was compelled to share this stunning glass piece with readers. I'm always as excited about my book covers as I am about the poetry within and hope you'll look for what's coming next...

P.S. At the risk of sounding like a Grandmother braggart: After Karen produces a photo of the glass piece, it is sent to Martin Romero, my grandson in Louisiana, who makes a handsome design around the glass piece for the cover.

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