This past August, flooding in southern Louisiana damaged 55,000 homes, reviving bitter memories of Hurricane Katrina. Now, two Vermont authors who wrote about that earlier disaster have teamed up for a local benefit to support some of the flood's youngest victims.
Tamara Ellis Smith of Richmond is the author of Another Kind of Hurricane, a middle-grade novel published last year. About a New Orleans boy and a Vermonter who discover their unexpected connection in the hurricane's wake, it was a finalist for the Vermont Book Award. Alice Fothergill is a sociology prof at the University of Vermont. She coauthored Children of Katrina, a study of kids displaced by the disaster over a seven-year period.
Both authors will read from and discuss their work on Thursday, November 3, at a benefit for Baton Rouge schools at Phoenix Books Burlington. Books bought and donated at the event will help replenish the libraries of ravaged Louisiana schools.
Smith will attend the Louisiana Book Festival the weekend before the Phoenix event; in an email, she says she'll "use the opportunity while I am there to visit the affected schools."
The novelist is fascinated by how experiences of loss can link people in far-flung locations; while she was still writing Another Kind of Hurricane, her home was damaged by Tropical Storm Irene. Now she and Fothergill have joined another local children's author, Kate Messner — who posted about the flooding on her blog — in urging Vermonters to look south. "I believe in connection more than anything, and the alchemy that can come from connection," Smith writes, "and this benefit will, hopefully, allow people to engage in this kind of bridge building."
Book Benefit for Baton Rouge Schools with Tamara Ellis Smith and Alice Fothergill, Thursday, November 3, 7 p.m., at Phoenix Books Burlington. Free; donations accepted.
Margot Harrison is the Associate Editor at Seven Days; she coordinates literary and film coverage. In 2005, she won the John D. Donoghue award for arts criticism from the Vermont Press Association.