In October 2023, LSU Libraries paid homage to Pinkie Gordon Lane, a trailblazer in Louisiana’s literary and academic history. The event, titled “Remembering Pinkie Gordon Lane: A Poetry Reading with Original Music,” commemorated her contributions both locally and on the national poetry scene. Before becoming Louisiana’s first Black Poet Laureate in 1989, Pinkie Gordon Lane was the first Black woman to earn a doctorate from LSU, graduating with a degree in English. Additionally, she was the first woman to chair Southern University’s English Department and a Pulitzer Prize-nominated poet.
This event was held in association with Special Collections’ fall exhibition, “The Legacies They Built: Honoring Pinkie Gordon Lane, Lutrill and Pearl Payne, and Julian T. White,” which showcased materials related to the four Black LSU pioneers after which it was named. LSU Libraries Special Collections houses unique materials donated to LSU by Lane, including her poetry, dissertation, correspondence with poets representing the Black Arts Movement, and more.
The focal point of “Remembering Pinkie Gordon Lane” was a selection of Lane’s poetry, complemented by an original musical performance. First, the audience heard from Lane herself, from an audio recording of the poet reading “A Quiet Poem.” Then, LSU Librarians Narcissa Haskins and Jazzlyn Boyd recited the poems, “Poems to My Father,” “Wind Thoughts,” “Gordon,” and “Lyric: I am Looking at Music.” Mikel LeDee, Head of LSU Libraries’ Music Resources Department, composed music honoring the four pioneers highlighted in “The Legacies They Built,” and these original works were performed by Wagner Duarte (cello) and Aaron Gonzalez (violin), doctoral students in the School of Music. Additional pieces based on the poetry of Pinkie Gordon Lane were commissioned and composed for this event by Duarte, Gonzalez, and Kevin George, a New Orleans composer and LSU alumnus. LeDee, Duarte, Gonzalez, and George were all students of the late LSU music professor Dinos Constantinides, and these connections reflected the creative collaborations between Lane and Constantinides in the 1980s and 1990s.
Among the distinguished guests were Lane’s son, Gordon Lane, a musician, attending with his wife, Teresa, and two daughters, Jessica and Simone. In addition, the daughter of Lutrill and Pearl Payne, Carolyn White, attended with her husband, Herschel White.
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