Where do you live now and what are you up to these days?
I live in Lafayette. I’m still involved with studying, writing, and creating music and poetry, but my day job is in brand strategy at Stuller. It’s great work that allows me to draw on my academic training in folklore and anthropology, while also engaging my creativity.
What has been your greatest achievement in your career?
That’s tough, but one that stands out is being honored with a Kluge Fellowship at the Library of Congress to study Louisiana music. I was able to take off a year of work and essentially write and conduct research. I had an office in the Thomas Jefferson building, right near the gorgeous main reading room — and I had almost instantaneous access to the greatest library in the world. What else could a poet and researcher ask for?
What is your greatest inspiration for your work?
I’m most moved by music, song, and art that is inflected and structured by intensely localized conditions — Irish music and poetry, Appalachian banjo music, the stories and songs of coastal Louisiana. If it’s got a sense of place, it’s got grace, in my eyes at least.
Tell us about your family.
My family background is primarily Irish and Cajun. My wife, Claire Caffery, is an artist and musician, and we have two awesome kids: Rosalie, 6, and Moses, 3. Rosalie likes dragons and is in French immersion. Moses likes getting muddy in the back yard and pretending to be a variety of animals — a musk ox of late.
Where were you born and raised? Where did you graduate from? What did you major in?
I was born and raised on the Irish Bend of the Bayou Teche, right between Franklin and Baldwin. I went to ESA before getting a Philosophy and Religious studies degree at LSU. I went back to school in my late 20s and got an MA and Ph.D. in English at UL Lafayette. I’m working now on getting an AJP, an Applied Jewelry Professional degree from the Gemological Institute of America.
Have you lived anywhere else? If so, why did you choose to return to Louisiana?
Beyond the year of research in Washington, D.C., I spent a year as a visiting professor in the folklore department at Indiana University in Bloomington. We thought about staying there, but Acadiana pulled me back.