Books by Lee
Goodbye Silver, Silver Cloud / In the Sweet Balance of the
Flesh / French Quarter Poems
Three Poets in New Orleans /
CD Live! On Frenchmen Street
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Local Writer Awarded $20,000
Ross, Staff Writer
The Times-Picayune/The States-Item
A year ago, New Orleans poet and writer Lee H. Grue sent a sample of her writing to New York to enter a
national fellowship endowment, awarded to creative writers.
Three days ago, Grue received what she thought was an
application to apply for the next year's fellowship. Instead,
she learned that she will receive $20,000 from the National
Endowment for the Arts to help boost her writing career.
Grue was one of 100 writers selected from 30 states to
receive the fellowships, which totaled $2 million. Another
Louisiana writer, Sandra B. Alcosser of Baton Rouge, also
received a fellowship.
The purpose of the award, according to the National Endowment
for the Arts, is to enable published writers of exceptional
talent to set aside time for writing, research, or travel.
The winners were chosen from more than 2,000 applicants.
"When I saw the letter in the mail, it was the same kind
of envelope that the application for the fellowship comes
in," Grue said Sunday. "I read my other mail and then
opened it up. It caught me completely off guard."
Grue was born in Plaquemine, and has lived in New Orleans
since she was 14. She graduated from the University of New
Orleans and received her masters degree in creative writing from
Warren Wilson College in North Carolina.
She is married to Capt. Reginald Grue, a river port pilot,
and has three children, raising from 14 to 19 years old.
Grue said she and her husband celebrated the news with beer
and pizza that night. She isn't sure yet what she will do with
the money, but hopes some of it can ease the burden of putting
children through college.
She also is thinking of taking a trip to Mexico, to the Mayan
ruins. "We've been there hiking before and I've often
thought it would be a wonderful setting for a poem or
Grue said New Orleans plays a prominent role in her writing
and a collection of her poetry, French Quarter Poems, is being
sold around the city.
Grue said she only needs to fill out a form accepting the
award, and a check will be sent to her. News of the fellowship
already has boosted her career, she said.
"The other day I got a call from a publisher from New
York, about a collection of short stories I have. That's one
more call than I had before."
The endowment comes from an independent federal agency, which
gave $1.6 million to writers in 1984. Since it was established
in 1965, the endowment has given fellowships to hundreds of
* * *
By Lee Meitzen Grue
Lee Grue is arguably one of the finest practitioners
of poetry in New Orleans' storied history. These
superb writs are equal to the upwelling of jazz
itself: from Tremé street corners, to the wayward
French Quarter, to the carefree vibes of Bywater,
all the way to back o' town; this astonishing
collection speaks from a mythic pantheon off yowls &
beats as timeless as the Crescent City herself. "If
you're missing New Orleans, and you know what that
means, you need to read Grue's book front to back,
place by place, time by time, name by name,
everything that breaks your broken heart and asks it
to sing. A generous, loving tribute to poetry and to
Grue's work is one of the majestic pylons that keeps
New Orleans above water, a pylon woven thickly and
subtly from the city's history. Her poetry weaves
her personal history to the five centuries of the
city's own, a fabric stronger than the dreams of
engineers. Lee Grue holds us all on the warm open
hand of her music; she emanates the love that raises
the soul levees"—Andrei
Lee Meitzen Grue was born
in Plaquemine, Louisiana, a small town upriver. New Orleans has
been home for most of her life. She began reading her poetry at
The Quorum Club during the early sixties. There she met
musicians Eluard Burt and Maurice Martinez (bandleader Marty
Most). Burt had just come back to New Orleans from San
Francisco, where he had been influenced by the Beats. Eluard
Burt and Lee Grue continued to work together over many years.
Burt and his photographer wife, Kichea Burt, came home to New
Orleans from California again in the nineties, where the three
collaborated on a CD, Live! on Frenchmen Street. Eluard Burt
passed in 2007.
Kichea Burt contributed
some of the photographs in Grue's book DOWNTOWN. During the
intervening years Grue reared children, directed The New Orleans
Poetry Forum workshop, and NEA poetry readings in the Backyard
Poetry Theater. In 1982 she began editing New Laurel Review, an
independent international literary journal which is still
published today. She has lived downtown in the Bywater for
thirty-five years. After the flood of 2005 she began teaching
fiction and poetry at the Alvar Library, which is three blocks
from her house. Her other books are: Trains and Other
Intrusions, French Quarter Poems,
In the Sweet Balance of the
Goodbye Silver, Silver Cloud, short fiction.
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update 8 July 2008