Poet and essayist Sheryl St. Germain is the recipient of the 2018 Louisiana Writer Award given annually to recognize outstanding contributions to Louisiana’s literary and intellectual life exemplified by a living writer’s body of work. St. Germain is the nineteenth recipient of the annual award given by the Louisiana Center for the Book in the State Library of Louisiana.
“Louisiana is always front and center in Sheryl’s poetry and essays, and her voice is distinctive, bringing that fierce intelligence of hers to bear on such pressing issues as addiction and environmental losses,” says Susan Larson, host of WWNO’s The Reading Life. “She is someone I see in the great continuum of Louisiana literature, taught by great Louisiana writers, fashioning her own style and vision, and passing on her wisdom to her students. She is a true Louisiana writer, through and through.”
Poet Darrell Bourque, former Louisiana Poet Laureate and the 2014 Louisiana Writer Award recipient, adds, “Sheryl has dedicated her professional life to helping others find their way into the writer’s life: the incarcerated, the addicted, the homeless, the wanderers, with special emphasis to abused and abandoned women.”
Sheryl’s family roots in Louisiana are deep, going back over two hundred years. Her earliest maternal ancestors, immigrants from France and Italy, worked a small orange plantation in Buras for many years before moving to New Orleans to run a grocery store in the French Quarter. Her father’s family was of mixed Cajun and Creole descent, hailing from Ville Platte on her grandmother’s side, and Jamaica and France on the grandfather’s side. Born in New Orleans, Sheryl spent most of her life as a child and young adult in Kenner, where her family moved when she was five, and where her mother still lives. She attended Southeastern Louisiana University, studying creative writing with Tim Gautreaux. After graduating with her BA in English, she moved to Dallas, Texas, where she completed her MA and PhD in Humanities at The University of Texas at Dallas, and published her first poetry books. Her first full-time teaching position was as a professor of English at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.
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