Former poet laureate and professor emeritus of English at ULL to speak at LSMSA’s 37th commencement ceremony

The Louisiana School for Math, Science, and the Arts (LSMSA will hold its 37th Commencement Ceremony for the class of 2021 Saturday, May 15 at 2 pm in Prather Coliseum on the campus of Northwestern State University.

Serving as the guest speaker is Darrell Bourque, professor emeritus in English from the University of Louisiana, Lafayette, a former Louisiana Poet Laureate, the recipient of the Writer Award 2014 from the Louisiana Book Festival and the recipient of the James Rivers Award from the Center for Louisiana Studies, ULL, for his contributions to Louisiana Literature and Culture.

No stranger to LSMSA, Bourque’s daughter Rachel was among one of the earliest graduating classes. He is a friend to many in the area and is a member of the Creole Heritage Group at Northwestern State University.

“I have great affection for the cultures that enrich the area,” he shared. “The City, the Creole Heritage site, the University and LSMSA.”

But beyond that, Bourque feels the opportunity to speak at the school’s commencement ceremony and engage with remarkable young citizens at such a singular and auspicious moment in their lives is a rare privilege.

He describes the Louisiana School as an “Excellence Laboratory” that broadly defines the idea of what a gifted student is. While it challenges students in every facet of their lives, it nurtures them.

“I see it as one of those places where students are given an opportunity to invest in us (teachers, community, society) and not the other way around,” he said. “I love that the name itself suggests network/collaboration/connectivity. Math, Science, Art: all are essential and each is a component of the other, each contains and embraces the other. The students make a huge sacrifice to be at a place like LSMSA but in exchange they get intellectual and cultural stimulation from a faculty like no other in the state. Every component of energy that goes into making LSMSA is energy directed at hope, belief in change for the better, expansion of possibility, an energy directed at adaptability, flexibility, the amazing ability of intelligence and imagination to bring us into new territories of Being.”

LSMSA’s Commencement Ceremony and Senior Recognition Ceremony earlier in the day will be livestreamed:

Senior Recognition Ceremony, SATURDAY, MAY 15, 10 A.M. –

Commencement Ceremony, SATURDAY, MAY 15, 2 P.M. –

Covid-19 Safety Reminders:

Social distancing guidelines should be followed at all times during our Graduation Ceremony. Face masks MUST be worn at all times during the ceremony. Guests should follow the posted directions throughout the Coliseum for traffic flow. Handshaking and hugging are prohibited. Please do not gather for pictures or visits after the ceremony in the Coliseum. Thank you for your cooperation.

“We appreciate everyone’s help in making this a safe, orderly, and memorable event as we celebrate our Graduates,” said Executive Director Dr. Steve Horton.

More about Darrell Bourque:

In 2019 Bourque was awarded the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities Humanist of the Year Award.

At ULL he served as the director of the freshman English program, the director of the Deep South Writers Conference, the director of the Interdisciplinary Humanities Program, director of the Creative Writing Program and the Head of the English Department.

He is the recipient of both the ULL Foundation’s Distinguished Professor Award and the Outstanding Teacher Award. He was president of the National Association of Humanities Education and served as the editor of its journal, Interdisciplinary Humanities. He is one of the founding members of Narrative 4, an international youth story exchange which works for community building and social justice issues through storytelling around the themes of violence, faith, environment, identity and immigration.

He is on the Advisory Board of Festival of Words of Grand Coteau, an organization founded to bring literacy and literature to underserved and underprivileged communities. He is also on the Advisory Board of NUNU Cultural Arts Collective in Arnaudville and on the Board of the Ernest J. Gaines Center at University of Louisiana at Lafayette.

His 10 poetry publications include his first book Plainsongs (poems set in the Marais Bouleur) and his later works, Megan’s Guitar and Other Poems from Acadie (poems in the voices of the historical figures of the two largest Cajun migrations into Louisiana), “if you abandon me, comment je vas faire, An Amédé Ardoin Songbook,” and Where I Waited (poems in the voices of four pioneer figures in early Louisiana traditional music). He is the co-founder of the Améde Ardoin Project (with Patricia Cravins), a social justice project to create a public commemorative for the iconic traditional Louisiana Creole musician. His work, From the Other Side, is a series of sonnets on the founder of the Holy Family Sisters Henriette Delille, keyed to abstract expressionist paintings of NSU graduate and Byrd High School art teacher Bill Gingles, and his latest work migraré is a set of ekphrastic ghazals, also keyed to the work of Bill Gingles, a graduate of the NSULA visual arts program.

He and his wife Karen are members of the Christ the King Mission Church community of Bellevue, La., an historic rural Black Catholic church. The church and its school, which was operational until the 1950s, was founded by the Sisters of the Holy Family.


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