Louisiana poet laureate Brenda Marie Osbey to host Katrina fundraiser Oct. 28

Event also to feature reading by Gerald Early and music by The Bourbon Street Band

Brenda Marie Osbey, Poet Laureate of the State of Louisiana, will host a fundraiser for victims of Hurricane Katrina currently staying in the St. Louis area.

Brenda Marie Osbey
Brenda Marie Osbey

The event — sponsored by Washington University’s Department of English in Arts & Sciences — will take place from 4 to 6 p.m. Friday, Oct. 28, in The Gargoyle, located on the lower level of the Mallinckrodt Student Center, 6445 Forsyth Blvd. The event is free and open to the public, though donations are encouraged. For more information, call (314) 935-5190.

Osbey, a native of New Orleans, will read from her work and discuss Katrina’s effects on the city. In addition, the event will feature Dixieland music by St. Louis’ Bourbon Street Band, while Gerald Early, Ph.D., the Merle Kling Professor of Modern Letters in Arts & Sciences at Washington University, will speak on “The Death of Jazz and the Birth of New Orleans.”

Osbey was appointed poet laureate by Louisiana governor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco in Spring 2005. A graduate of Dillard University and the University of Kentucky, she also studied at the Université Paul Valéry in Montpéllier, France. Her books include All Saints: New and Selected Poems (1997), which received the 1998 American Book Award, as well as Desperate Circumstance, Dangerous Woman (1991), In These Houses (1988) and Ceremony for Minneconjoux (1983/85).

Osbey’s poems have appeared in numerous journals, anthologies and collections, including The American Poetry Review, Essence, Southern Exposure, Southern Review, Early Ripening: American Women’s Poetry Now (1987) and Literature of the American South: A Norton Anthology (1997). Her essays on New Orleans have appeared in The American Voice, Georgia Review, BrightLeaf and Creative Nonfiction. Her column on race and culture in contemporary France appears in Gambit Weekly.

Prior to Hurricane Katrina, Osbey was artist-in-residence at Dillard University in New Orleans, where she conducted seminars and colloquia in literature, creative writing and New Orleans black culture. She is currently a visiting assistant professor of English at Louisiana State University.

Gerald Early
Gerald Early

Early is a professor of English and of African & Afro-American Studies and director of the Center for the Humanities in Arts & Sciences. His books include The Culture of Bruising: Essays on Prizefighting, Literature, and Modern American Culture, which won the 1994 National Book Critics Circle Award for criticism, and One Nation Under a Groove: Motown and American Culture (1994). In addition, Early is the editor of This is Where I Came In: Black America in the 1960s (2003); The Sammy Davis, Jr., Reader (2001); and Body Language: Writers on Sport (1998).

The five-piece Bourbon Street Band is led by trumpeter Herb Booth and also features Bill Herbert on banjo; Eric Sager on clarinet; Michael Brooks on trombone; and Tom Gassaway on the tuba.

Booth has played on the Mississippi Queen and the American Queen, both Mississippi River steamboats out of New Orleans. He notes that Dixieland music was “born in New Orleans, came up that superhighway—the Mississippi—to St. Louis, branched out to Kansas City and Chicago, and only then traveled to New York City.”

Herbert once played with Banu Gibson in New York, while Sager is a member of the St. Louis Ragtimers and Brooks has his own band, Route 66. Gassaway is a former drum major for Marching Mizzou.


WHO: Louisiana poet laureate Brenda Marie Osbey, with Washington University professor Gerald Early and The Bourbon Street Band

WHAT: Benefit for Hurricane Katrina evacuees staying in St. Louis

WHEN: 4 to 6 p.m. Friday, Oct. 28

WHERE: The Gargoyle, Mallinckrodt Student Center, 6445 Forsyth Blvd.

COST: Free and open to the public, though donations are encouraged

INFORMATION: (314) 935-5190