Local authors to inspire community through ‘Celebrating the Written Word’ literary journey

In Downtown Hammond, attendees will soon be taken on a literary journey during an annual celebration.

According to hammondarts.org, Celebrating the Written Word will be returning for the third year on Saturday, Mar. 12 from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. in various Downtown Hammond locations such as: The Hammond Regional Arts Center (HRAC), City Council Chambers, the Tangipahoa Parish Library, Sip & Spa Tea Room, Nortech and the Columbia Theatre.

According to Executive Director of HRAC Katherine Marquette, Celebrating the Written Word was created by local author Katie Wainwright. 

According to Marquette, the festivities will include a closing reception complete with music, food and social networking. In addition, a new attraction will be included to enhance the ambiance of the festivities. 

“This is the first year in which the Author’s Party is open to all registered attendees and provides folks an excellent opportunity for bragging rights,” said Marquette. “After all, how many people get to say they’ve rubbed elbows with a poet laureate? Those who attend will be able to do just that and show off at their next dinner party. That alone is worth the price of admission.”  

Erica Spindler will be a keynote speaker. A special reading by Louisiana poet laureate (a poet appointed by the government) Peter Cooley, will be included as well as participation from other local authors such as: Kurt Amaker, Lyn Gibson, Randolph Thomas, Pamela Cali Bankston, Barry Hebert, Cathy H. Tijerino, Barry Bradford, Eric Johnson, Kim Vaz-Deville, Deborah Burst, Howard Nichols, Wainwright, Mary Katherine Callaway, Matthew Sigur, Kent Wascom and Wendy Duhe Woods. 




Media Coordinator for the HRAC Tara Bennett describes the extensive preparation that went into organizing Celebrating the Written Word.

“It’s not an easy process that’s for sure,” said Bennett. “Like writing a book, it takes time to plan festivals such as these. You have to make time to build the literary community that you want to support, or it won’t happen. The committee for the festival spent weeks working together in order to bring a great festival and to ensure there was something for everyone, be it new book recommendations, how to promote yourself via social media or learning how to write food critiques.”

According to Bennett, Hammond has an, “active literary community” which includes book clubs, writing groups and seasoned authors that help to make this event successful.

“It’s always great fun at the festival each year, whether it is by listening to beautiful poetry or chatting with others who were also blown away by the great panel you’ve both attended,” said Bennett. “It can be a real joy to meet the gifted writer and make a heartfelt connection that may even turn into a long-term friendship.”

Sims Memorial Library Director and author Johnson has been part of the committee that planned Celebrating the Written Word for the last two years, as well as introducing some of the authors to their audiences.

“I’m delighted to be part of Celebrating the Written Word as an author this time,” said Johnson. “I had a chance to listen to many different authors speak about their work.  Hearing an author talk about their writing, whether it be themes, style or just the mechanics, enhances the experience of reading their books.”

Johnson encourages attendance at Celebrating the Written Word to get more of an intimate connection between author and reader.

 “It’s not as large as other literary festivals, which results in a higher level of contact with the authors,” said Johnson. “Plus you have the opportunity to get signed copies of their books, which is also part of the fun.”

Marquette discusses the importance of arts in the community and how attending Celebrating the Written Word can be enjoyable for avid readers or authors-to-be.

“An author doing a reading/book-signing is a pretty common occurrence; however, a dozen makes this a game-changer,” said Marquette. “Access to the arts is an essential part of any strong community. The arts are important because they connect us to one another-across culture, ethnicity, religion, race, political party…you name it. The arts have the power to unite. They allow us to find commonalities, to connect with complete strangers in profound ways.”

Registration costs $35 per person and includes access to a full day of workshops, panel discussions and master classes which will be hosted by the guest authors. For more information on Celebrating the Written Word, visit the HRAC’s website at hammondarts.org or call 985-542-7113.