Patrice Melnick, Founder. Patrice Melnick is a writer, arts administrator, educator and business owner.

Melnick taught English and creative writing at Xavier University in New Orleans for 13 years where she founded one of the first creative writing programs at a Historically Black University. She has also taught a Literary Nonfiction Workshop in the low-residency MFA program at the University of New Orleans.

Turning Up the Volume (Xavier Press), a memoir, was published in 2005 a new memoir, Contraband Po-boy: from Diagnosis Back to Life (Catalyst Book Press.) Her essays and poems have appeared in Grain, The Xavier Review, Buffalo Bones and Prism International and other journals.

Following Hurricane Katrina, Melnick moved from New Orleans to Grand Coteau, Louisiana, where she opened up a gift shop and started a literary reading and open mic series. In 2010 she established the nonprofit organization the Festival of Words Cultural Arts Collective which promotes the literary arts in the surrounding rural communities.

Patrice Melnick holds a B.A. in English from the University of Texas at Austin, and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from the University of Alaska, Fairbanks. More information is available here:
Martha Garner, Executive Director, is an early childhood educator who has loved words from an early age. She has been part of Word Crawl and Festival of Words for several years. In January 2018 she took over as Executive Director. She is looking forward to retirement in 2019, so she can devote all her energy to Festival of Words.
A Yankee transplant who is thriving in Southern soil, she moved to Lafayette five years ago and has developed a love for the city and its amazing cultural variety. Has taught young children for 20 years, and is currently teaching preK in Iberia Parish. Has loved reading since she was a young child. Started writing poetry when in Acadiana Writing Project in 2009. Hopes to share her love of all things literary and support Festival of Words by serving on the board.
Bruce Coen, President, has lived in California where he spent time in L.A. studying acting and attempting a career in film. He lived in Bakersfield, CA for a year where he did 6-7 shows in a row including musicals and Shakespeare. Since moving to Lafayette in 2004, he's directed 5-6 shows, taught acting through ULL's Potpourri, and acted in numerous productions including Les Marionettes.
Marie Touchet, Vice President, Raised in Acadiana, Marie Touchet has always had a fondness for traveling, writing, and reading. She has worked for a computer software company for 10 years. She also helps run Lyrically Inclined, a spoken word poetry organization in Lafayette, LA. She is currently serving as Vice President on the board for Festival of Words.
Bruce Snow, Treasurer, grew up in Boston but has lived in Lafayette for most his life. Studied liberal arts in college and engineering in graduate school. Married with one grown daughter. Came to Louisiana as a petroleum geologist and then later became a database administrator, now (mostly) retired.

In retirement, stays busy maintaining websites (pro bono), teaching ESL, studying linguistics and flamenco guitar and enjoys international travel.

Serves on the board for several organizations: Shining Light Foundation, VITA, Unitarian Universalist of Lafayette and Food Net, mainly as a webmaster and/or treasurer.
Tracy Glenn, Graphics Designer, was born in Lafayette but moved to Anchorage, Alaska, when she was 11 and lived there until she was 21. She attended Louisiana Technical College and earned a degree in graphic design. She began her career in graphics working for the Quik Quarter and moved to The Daily Advertiser, where she was the most sought-after designer on staff. She eventually moved from advertising to the newspaper's marketing department. In 2007, she left the newspaper to accept the position of Advertising and Design Coordinator for Iberia Bank, where she has worked since. In her free time, she enjoys creating electronic music, painting and making frequent trips to Canada.

Denise Gallagher Artist and author Denise Gallaghers work has been described as whimsical and dark, inspired by the culture of her Louisiana home. A graduate of UL, she spent the first part of her career as an art director and graphic designer in Lafayette where she garnered numerous awards in that field.
In 2013, Denise started her own business in order to focus on illustration and writing. Her illustrations have graced packaging, giftware, childrens books and much more. In 2017, her first picture book project as both author and illustrator, A Tip Tap Tale was published. Denise is devoted to promoting a love of arts and literature in children. She has spoken on the subject of art and writing to students from kindergarten through college.
Her work has been included in Communication Arts Magazines Illustration Annual and the Society of Illustrators New York 51st Annual Show. She received a Bronze Medal in the Society of Illustrators Los Angeles Illustration West 50 Show. Her illustration portfolio also received first place at two regional Society of Childrens Book Writers and Illustrators conferences. Denises fine art work has been exhibited in museums and galleries in Los Angeles, New York, Portland, New Orleans, Baton Rouge and Lafayette, Louisiana.
Barbie Hedge
Andrew Hebert
Mary Bobb-Singleton

The Festival of Words is funded in part by a grant from South Arts in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Louisiana Endowment for the Arts.

The Festival of Words appreciates partnerships with Acadiana Writing Project; Grand Coteau Cultural Arts Foundation; the Thensted Center; Lyrically Inclined; Beth Fusilier of Sterling Kia, Graphic Designer Tracy.Duhamel; Chicorys Coffee & Cafe'; Grand Coteau Bistro, Giles Auto Rent; Nunu's Arts and Culture Collective, and St. Landry Parish Tourism. We are also supported by many generous donors of our community and from all over the country.

We also appreciate in-kind support from The Center for Louisiana Studies at UL, and C. Bruce Snow, Data Management.

updated 10/15/2018
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