Wednesday, April 16, 2014
Darrell Bourque - if you abandon me, comment je vas faire: An Amédé Ardoin Songbook
Chapbook (2014), 8.5 inches x 5.5 inches.
First Printing Limited to an edition of 26 lettered copies. 60lb. Card-stock covers, 20% cotton linen paper. Hand-sewn binding. ($10).
Darrell Bourque explores the life of Creole musician Amédé Ardoin (1898-1942) in this haunting collection of inverted sonnets. Using imagination and historical research, Bourque delves into Ardoin, an influential but enigmatic artist.
This chapbook is the first installment of The Louisiana Series of Cajun and Creole Poetry (La Série de Louisiane de Poésie des Acadiens et Créoles).
Early records are sketchy but Amédé Ardoin's birthdate is now believed to be March 11, 1898. Born to Thomas Ardoin and Aurelia Clint Ardoin, he grew up in the Eunice-Basile area. The family was but a generation from slavery and it is believed the Ardoin name was taken from an early family the Ardoin's predecessors worked for. One census record shows him listed as a farmer but his work was always directed to being a professional musician, something unheard of in his time and unperceivable for a Negro at the time. He was beaten in a racial assault sometime late in his life and spent the last six months of his life as Case 13387 at the mental institution in Pineville, Louisiana where he died on November 3, 1942. The same medical index card that gives his case number also indicates that he was buried in an unmarked grave in the Negro section of the graveyard at the hospital. Legendary Cajun fiddler Dennis McGee, his friend with whom he played and recorded, called Amédé Ardoin une chanson vivant, a living song.
Purpose of fundraising effort: Family and friends of Amédé Ardoin have tried to get information from the Central Louisiana Hospital in Pineville for several years now. The inquiry was part of an effort to return Ardoin's remains from the cemetery at Pineville to his home place in the Eunice-Basile area. The hospital maintains that he was buried in an unmarked grave in the Negro section of the graveyard there and that no possibility of retrieval of remains is possible. That being the case, Amédé Ardoin's family, friends, and lovers of his music would like to see some kind of public commemorative placed in his community to honor his life and his immense contribution to the Cajun and Creole culture he helped define through his artistry, perhaps something in the form of a statue or a plaque near the home he loved and kept trying to return to. A portion of the proceeds from if you abandon me, comment je vas faire: An Amédé Ardoin Songbook will be donated to the effort to realize such a public commemorative.
Darrell Bourque's latest full-length book of poems is Megan's Guitar and Other Poems from Acadie. Bourque is professor emeritus of English at the University of Louisiana Lafayette where he directed the interdisciplinary humanities program and served as the first Friends of the Humanities professor. He is a founding member of Narrative4, an international story exchange program, a member of the board at the Ernest J. Gaines Center at ULL and a former Louisiana Poet Laureate. The chapbook if you abandon me, comment je vas faire: An Amédé Ardoin Songbook is his ninth work.
Posted by J. Bruce Fuller at 4:03 PM