Many recurring motifs found in south Louisiana’s culture spring from the state’s rich folklore. Influenced by settlers of European and African heritage, celebrated customs like the Courir de Mardi Gras and fabled creatures like the Loup-Garou are outgrowths of the region’s distinctive oral traditions. Joshua Clegg Caffery’s In the Creole Twilight draws from this vibrant and diverse legacy to create an accessible reimagining of traditional storytelling and song.
A scholar and Grammy-nominated musician, Caffery borrows from the syllabic structures, rhyme schemes, narratives, and settings that characterize Louisiana songs and tales to create new verse that is both well-researched and refreshingly inventive. Paired with original pen-and-ink illustrations as well as notes that clarify the origins of characters and themes, Caffery’s compositions provide a link to the old worlds of southern Louisiana while constructing an entirely new one.
Joshua Clegg Caffery, author of Traditional Music in Coastal Louisiana, is a native of Franklin, Louisiana, and is currently a visiting professor in folklore at Indiana University in Bloomington. He was a founding member of the Red Stick Ramblers and a longtime member of the Louisiana French band Feufollet. In addition to being nominated for a Grammy for his work on the Feufollet album En Couleurs, he served as the 2013–14 Alan Lomax Fellow in Folklife Studies at the John W. Kluge Center, Library of Congress.
Praise for In the Creole Twilight
“[Caffery’s] poetry is serious but playful, provincial but universal—in other words, as complicated as the word ‘creole’ itself. . . . Readers will enjoy exploring this collection, both for its own merits and for what it adds to our state’s culture.”—Louisiana Cultural Vistas
“Extends the life of many old tales and songs, not only preserving them and making them more widely available but doing so in an attractive hardbound volume with the added assets of pen-and-ink drawings by the author and cover art by his wife, Claire Caffery. . . . In the Creole Twilight is the real thing.”—Arkansas Review
“With reverence and spirit, in image and song, this enchanting book celebrates the rich and magical oral traditions of South Central Louisiana.”—Rikki Ducornet, author of The Deep Zoo
“Each poem here is a sleight-of-hand, sheer oneiric entrapment. They come from some liminality mined only by a poet of Joshua Clegg Caffery’s strengths. Each of these pieces is at once completely contemporary as well as skillfully rooted in ancient techniques and strategies of songs/verses/folk narratives the world over, and each one an expansion of and immersion in créolité to boot: ‘The time, the time, the time has come. / The fiddler arrives and you form the ring. / Someone has to start the song, / and that is why you sing.’ The elegance of In the Creole Twilight is juré elegance and is matched only by Claire Caffery’s elegant illustrations.”—Darrell Bourque, former Louisiana Poet Laureate, author of Megan’s Guitar and Other Poems from Acadie and co-director of The Amédé Ardoin Project
“With his work In the Creole Twilight, Josh Caffery proves that he is a true bard and an important voice for Louisiana folklore and literature. Acting as both scholar and poet, he intricately weaves the rich timelessness of southern Louisiana folklore and legend into the modern reality to create a new landscape that is as dualistic and complex as the lush and twisting landscape of deep South Louisiana herself. Here we find collective rich cultural tales and ancient stories married to profound personal and intimate ones. Light-hearted humor is cradled in dark sobriety. A deep reverence for place and home is juxtaposed against dépaysement. Communal experiences are felt through the quiet heart of the individual whilst maintaining their universality. Caffery reminds us that, ‘Of all the masked performers, you are one,’ and that although far away, we are all deeply rooted.”—Kristi Guillory, Grammy-nominated musician and folklorist