John Biguenet

recorded in New Orleans, LA

 

John Biguenet

This is John Biguenet, I’m a writer and teacher in New Orleans, Louisiana.


The Knox Writers’ House

So how did you end up here?


Biguenet

I was born in New Orleans, my family has been here for centuries on my father’s side. I was also Poet-in-Residence at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and the University of Texas at Dallas, but wound up coming back here.


KWH

What do you think of the writing community in New Orleans?


Biguenet

The writing community in New Orleans, like all the artistic communities in New Orleans, the musicians, the painters, the photographers, have focused their efforts, since the collapse of our levees, on the city itself. There is a widespread misunderstanding in the United States that New Orleans was hit by Hurricane Katrina. In fact, it bypassed the city and hit the Mississippi Gulf Coast. We were on the weak side of the storm and the highest sustained winds that were measured here in the city were only about 90 miles an hour. So it was a relatively minor storm, from our point of view. My house was dry 24 hours after the hurricane had passed, but by Tuesday night, I had 4 or 5 feet of saltwater in my kitchen. So the people that Americans and viewers all over the world saw on television, of New Orleanians trapped in their attics and on their rooftops, were not trapped on those rooftops by Hurricane Katrina, but by defective levees built by the US Army Corps of Engineers. This was not a natural disaster in New Orleans, it was a man-made disaster, and the men who made that disaster were the United States Army Corps of Engineers.


KWH

Do you consider yourself a part of the writing community here, and how do you participate in it if you do?


Biguenet

I think all of us feel a great sense of community in the artistic community of New Orleans. What we’ve learned since the flood is what the task of an artist is in a community.

They Flee from Me by Thomas Wyatt

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