We are delighted to announce the winner of the 2019 Delta Mouth Writing Contest! Congratulations to Morenike Erinkitola!
After graduating from Le Cordon Bleu in Atlanta and working for celebrity chefs like Bobby Flay, Morenike Erinkitola decided to pursue her love of writing. She is a graduating senior majoring in creative writing and a member of the Roger Hadfield Honors College at LSU. The Chicago native is strongly influenced by her hometown in her fiction writing. Additionally, she credits her identities as a woman, Nigerian American and wanderluster as influencing her poetry. She recently defended her undergraduate honors thesis “Translations,” a collection of poetry. This is the first contest she has won since her 3rd grade spelling bee.
Make sure to read her winning story and poem here:
The seven thousand block of Yates Boulevard was nothing special. By the time Edward Johnson moved in to unit 2B of the apartment compound, the neighborhood had grown tired of cozying up to new faces. Had it not been for his white skin, he would have gone completely unnoticed with the exception of the “Hey, how you doin’” that the neighbors said to tenants they didn’t really know.
What the neighborhood didn’t know, what no one could have predicted, was that Edward would sign a lease on the first Monday of August and kill his common law wife Monica in the same apartment a few days later. When the people in the neighborhood found out there was a dead body in the alley behind the apartment compound there were no signs of shock. The people in the neighborhood sighed a little and then kept on about their usual business. When the police came to investigate the death they canvassed the neighborhood and found unrelated bullet casings and bullet holes. There were no leads. All they had was a dead body and an abandoned apartment.
Neither the people in the neighborhood nor the police bothered to ask the neighborhood drug dealer if he had seen anything. If they had asked him what happened in the hour before that Thursday turned into Friday, they would have learned that Edward came out to the alley to throw out a bag of trash. Minutes later, he dragged Monica’s body out by wire hangers and pushed it over the rail. Edward then walked down the stairs and into the alley. Stuck by his tall frame and neat appearance, the dealer could not even speak when Edward simply said, “Hey, how you doing,” as he walked out of the alley and disappeared.
Delta Mouth 2018 was a huge success! Thank you to everyone who came out for our readings and panels.
And thanks once again to our generous sponsors: the LSU English department, English Graduate Student Association, The Southern Review, New Delta Review, Women and Gender Studies, Ogden Honors College, Radio Bar, Rice & Roux, City Pork, Trader Joe’s, and all the individuals who chipped in for the cause:
Rick Godden, Rachel Nix, Elizabeth Kolenda, Ashley Matskevich, Katie Boland, Ian Schoultz, Rachel Howatt, Eta Nurulhady, Jason Christian, Preety Sidhu, Ankita Rathour, James Butts, Philip Webb, Joseph Kronick, Femi Euba, James Butts, Emily Nemens, Eta Nurulhady, Rachel Howatt, Ian Schoultz, Ashley Matskevich, Rachel Nix, Rick Godden, Ankita Rathour, Preety Sidhu, The Greene Family, Mari Kornhauser, James Wilcox, Ronlyn Domingue, Mary B. Sellers, Annie & Lee Thorne, Kevin McGuirk, Madora Sellers, Lara Glenum, Alicia Ortega, Suzanne Webb, Jason Buch, Josef Horacek, Alexandra Chiasson, Lindsey Gay, Elsie Michie, Ian Schoultz, Rick Blackwood, Chris Barrett, Jennifer S. Davis, and Douglas Scully.
Without them, this incredible festival couldn’t have happened.
Special thanks to our amazing readers: Chen Chen, Lydia Conklin, Siaara Freeman, Anne Gisleson, Brandon Hobson, Dylan Krieger, R.O. Kwon, Kiese Laymon, M. Mack, Emily Nemens, and Baton Rouge’s very own WordCrew. They blew our minds with their brilliant words and performances.
We look forward to doing this again next year! So please join us then, and keep an eye out in the meantime for news about the latest publications and successes of the wonderful writers who came to Baton Rouge this past week to share their words with us.
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WordCrew is a spoken-word youth cohort based in Baton Rouge. In watching a number of videos of their past performances, I was struck by the sheer lyrical talent of these young poets. Hailing from the slam tradition, each of these performer’s words seemed to vibrate with raw emotion, transformed into messages that are at once politically palpable and deeply personal. It is rare to find a community that supports young poets in such powerful ways, and I am excited to be welcoming them to perform at Delta Mouth this year! —Elizabeth Kolenda, Community Engagement Coordinator
The only group of its kind in Baton Rouge, the WordCrew cohort (ages 13-19) meets weekly to write, perform, engage in dialogue and discourse, and plan youth spoken word and poetry events. Members coordinate the Forward Arts’ monthly teen open mic and poetry slam, Freshhhh Heat– which is the largest youth open mic in the state, participate in writing retreats, and serve as editors for Crushed Canvas.
Word Crew will be performing at our first night of Delta Mouth 2018! Come see them on Friday April 6th at 7pm in the Art & Design Auditorium Room 103 (LSU Campus). Additionally, Donney Rose of Forward Arts will be a panelist on Saturday April 7th at 1 pm in the Women’s Center (LSU Campus). See our full schedule here.
Having R. O. Kwon attend Delta Mouth this year is a tremendous honor! Her book, The Incendiaries, has an unheard-of strict economy of words that renders everything poetic, visceral, and at hyper speed. And yet it also delivers everything good fiction does in the ways of story, character, and narrative. Kwon is a master at exploding notions of prose and showing what damage those pieces can do. —Stephan Viau, Fundraiser Chair
R. O. Kwon’s first novel, The Incendiaries, is forthcoming from Riverhead in July of 2018. She is a National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellow. Her writing has appeared in The Guardian, Vice, NOON, Playboy, and San Francisco Chronicle. She has received awards and fellowships from Yaddo, MacDowell, and the Norman Mailer Writers Colony. Born in South Korea, she has mostly lived in the United States.
R. O. will be reading our finial night of Delta Mouth 2018! Come see her on Sunday April 8th at 5pm at Radio Bar (3079 Government Street). See our full schedule here.
As a queer Black woman writing my way through life, it’s going to be an absolute joy to engage with Siaara Freeman’s work off the page, up-close and personal. Siaara Freeman also moves through life as a writer. Her work gives voice to emotions I’ve yet to name, about my own coming-of-age in a life and neighborhood ravaged by the consequences of poverty, and about the loss of my seventeen-year-old brother who tried desperately to free himself from the bounds of inferiority: “What do you call a girl who has been haunted more years / than she has not?…Do you know how hard it is to protect a ghost? / Do you know how hard it is for a ghost to protect a girl?” Everyone I grew up with—dead, alive, caught somewhere in between—needs to hear Siaara read, but since I can’t bring the entire community of North Memphis to Delta Mouth, I will listen for us all. —Monterica Sade Neil, Outreach
Siaara Freeman is from Cleveland Ohio. She’s been published in Glass, Pinch, Texas Borderline Review, Black Napkin Press, and the Bettering American Poetry anthology. She has toured internationally, been twice nominated for the Pushcart Prize, and named a finalist for the 2017 Button Poetry chapbook contest. Siaara is a four-year PinkDoor Fellow, co-coach of the 2017 BNV Detroit team, founder of Wusgood.Black, and a reader for Tinderbox.
Siaara will be performing our first night of Delta Mouth 2018! Come see her on Friday April 6th at 7pm in the Art & Design Auditorium Room 103 (LSU Campus). See our full schedule here.
I’m thrilled that Kiese Laymon is coming to Delta Mouth this year. His essays in How to Slowly Kill Yourselves and Others in America were some of the first that got me interested in reading and writing nonfiction. I love the direct and honest style with which he describes his experiences as a Southern Black man, and I can’t wait to hear him read in person. —Cassie Grillon, Grant Writer
Kiese Laymon is a black writer from Jackson, Mississippi, who teaches at the University of Mississippi and the University of Iowa. Author of Long Division and How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America, his work has appeared in Esquire, New York Times, The Guardian, The FADER, and The Best American series. He is a contributing editor of Oxford American and has two books, Heavy and And So On, forthcoming from Scribner in 2018.
Kiese will be reading on our second night of Delta Mouth 2018! Come see him on Saturday April 6th at 7pm in the Hans and Donna Sternberg Salon (LSU Campus). See our full schedule here.
Of all the amazing writers who will be gracing the Delta Mouth stage this year, I’m most looking forward to Chen Chen’s reading. It’s great to have so much LGBT representation at the festival, and as a queer man, I especially appreciate his poem “Self-Portrait as So Much Potential” for how it captures the disappointment and the systemic and familial stifling that we all face as members of a heteronormative society. —Alex T, Social Media Coordinator
Chen Chen is the author of When I Grow Up I Want to Be a List of Further Possibilities, which was longlisted for a National Book Award. His work has appeared in Poetry, Tin House, New York Times Magazine, The Best American Poetry, and The Best American Nonrequired Reading. He was featured in Poets & Writers as one of “Ten Poets Who Will Change the World” and lives in Rochester, NY with his partner and their pug dog, Mr. Rupert Giles.
Chen’s visit is cosponsored by New Delta Review. We are excited to have him reading on our second night of Delta Mouth 2018 at 7pm on Saturday April 7th in the Hans and Donna Sternberg Salon (LSU Campus). Our full schedule of events is available here.