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Humanities council shines award spotlight on retired English prof

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The Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities named Darrell Bourque its 2019 Humanist of the Year.

Bourque is professor emeritus of English at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. He served as the state’s poet laureate from 2007 to 2011, and was the subject of a Fall 1997 profile in La Louisiane, the University's magazine. 

He is among nine award recipients LEH and the state Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism will honor at the 2019 Bright Lights Awards Dinner. It will be held at 6 p.m. on April 4 in the UL Lafayette Student Union.

The state humanities council has presented the awards since 1992. Honorees are individuals who, like Bourque, have contributed to the study of the humanities in Louisiana, said Miranda Restovic, the organization’s president and executive director.

“In Darrell Bourque, Louisiana has a native son who is the embodiment of a humanist. His work, whether his poetry or his numerous other cultural pursuits, points to a person firmly grounded in his community and driven by a deep concern for the value and dignity of all people,” Restovic said in a press release.

Bourque has written or edited 12 books of poetry, the most recent of which is if you abandon me, comment je vais faire: An Amédé Ardoin Songbook (2014).

A native of Church Point, Louisiana, he earned two degrees from the University of Southwestern Louisiana, now UL Lafayette: a bachelor’s in English education in 1965 and a master’s in English in 1968. He completed a Ph.D. in creative writing at Florida State University in 1981.

Bourque joined the USL faculty that year. During his two-decade tenure, he was chair of the Department of English and director of creative writing. The University’s Foundation twice honored his work in the classroom with its Outstanding Teacher Award in 1996 and Distinguished Professor Award in 1997. Bourque retired from teaching in 2003.

For more information on Bourque and other Bright Lights honorees, or to purchase tickets to the awards dinner, visit www.leh.org.

Photo caption: Darrell Bourque at his home in Church Point, Louisiana. (Photo by Akasha Rabut for the Louisiana Endowment of the Humanities)