As Hurricane Isaac continues to pound the Gulf Coast, we remember the destruction that region suffered when Hurricane Katrina slammed into New Orleans and surrounding areas on this day seven years ago. Yet out of Katrina’s ruin rose an abundance of narratives and poetry created in remembrance of what was lost. Jesmyn Ward, who was brought up on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, is among the authors who expressed her feelings about Katrina in writing. She came to LIVE in May to discuss her novel Salvage the Bones, which focuses on a family’s struggle to find meaning in the days leading up to, and immediately following, Katrina. If you need an escape from the raw news coverage of Isaac, watch Jesmyn Ward discuss her work that was born out of natural disaster.
We hope everyone who is currently experiencing Hurricane Isaac stays safe.
“Something about the South feels as familiar as family, as true as blood. I return because to smell the scent of burning pine needles gives me butterflies as shivery as a new crush. I return because I don’t feel like I’ve had my first real summer swim until I dive into an amber, warm, silt-ridden river. I return because when I sit out on the bayou and watch the sun set while the air smells like rotten eggs and mud and the cranes come and go and then roost on a cypress in the distance, I feel like crying. I return because when I go to San Francisco or New York City and try their seafood gumbo or fried catfish or beignets, the taste seems wrong and alien, but I keep eating because I can never get enough of anything that tastes of home, my home, even if it’s off.”
Jesmyn Ward, author of Salvage the Bones, looking at a stereoscopic photo from the NYPL’s photos & prints collection. Notice her wrist, which reads: “love brother”. See more photos by LIVE’s photographer Jori Klein from last night on our Facebook page…
Here is a stereoscopic photograph from the NYPL Digital Gallery of Galveston after the hurricane in 1900. This particular photo is captioned, “A once prosperous section of beautiful homes near the beach”. The Galveston Hurricane is the deadliest hurricane in U.S. history, as at that time, Galveston was the largest city in Texas.
Jesmyn Ward, author of last year’s National Book Award winner Salvage the Bones, has remarked that every generation has its storm. Ward’s is Hurricane Katrina, which she lived through in Mississippi with her family. She also used Katrina as the main catalyst for writing Salvage the Bones, which follows a family in the days leading up to the storm.
Tonight, Ward will take to the LIVE stage to talk about this personal experience, how it effects one’s writing, and how easy it is for the common conscious to forget about such events.
Tickets are still available, and if you enter the discount code “FAMILY” at checkout, you’ll receive 40% off. Learn more and purchase tickets here…
|—||Jesmyn Ward on Hurricane Katrina and her 2011 National Book Award winning novel Salvage the Bones. Read the rest of this interview to prepare for our event with Ward on Tuesday evening. Tickets still available here… (use the code “FAMILY” for 40% off!)|
“I understood that I wanted to write about the experiences of the poor and the black and the rural people of the south, so that the culture that marginalized us for so long, would see that our stories were as universal, our lives as frought and lovely and important as theirs. This is a life’s work, and I am only at the beginning.”
—Jesmyn Ward accepting the 2011 National Book Award for Salvage the Bones.
Ward will be on the LIVE stage May 1. Learn more here…