New Orleans through the Eyes
of a Lover
A vividly described memoir, My Bayou charts a personal and spiritual transformation along the fabled banks of Bayou Saint John in New Orleans. When Constance Adler moves to New Orleans, she begins what becomes a lasting love affair with the city, and especially the bayou - a living entity and the beating heart of local culture. Rites of passage, celebrations, mysterious accidents, and magic all take place on its banks, leading Adler to a vibrant awareness of the power of being part of a community. That faith is tested in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, and is ultimately proven right, as Bayou Saint John begins to rebuild.
Description: 260 pp., 6.00" x 9.00", Paper
Michigan State University Press
Constance Adler grew up in Longport, New Jersey, "The Pearl of Absecon Island." She attended Atlantic City High School, where she served briefly as president of the Latin Club, a formative role in her youth. She holds a BA in English Literature from Smith College and an MA in Creative Writing from Hollins University. Constance Adler lived in the Northeast for most of her life, before leaving America in 1995 and moving to New Orleans, Louisiana. She hasn’t been the same since. Now she shares a cottage near Bayou Saint John with her dog Lance. A Meyer lemon tree grows just outside her kitchen door, a fig tree in the side yard, and the sweet olive at the front door is doing well.
Adler has made her way in the world as a magazine journalist. Her articles have appeared in Spy Magazine, Utne Reader, Self, Cable Guide, Baltimore Magazine, Philadelphia Magazine, and Oxford American, among others. In 1985 she wrote about the James Joyce Society, a convention of Joyce scholars in Philadelphia, where she drank more whiskey than was wise for a woman of her limited tolerance. Still she made her deadline. For another story she stayed up all night with the cleaning staff in a large Baltimore office building to document the nocturnal world of the "invisible" people who look into our trash and see us with a startling intimacy. Her first story for Gambit Weekly in New Orleans examined the nature of confession. For two weeks she sat in Jackson Square under a sign that read, "Confessions Heard Here," and then reported on whatever came next. Adler covered the 2000 Census from the inside by getting a job as a Census Bureau "enumerator." While Adler was counting the people, a dog bit her. The editor made her story the cover that week, so she felt a lot better.
The Louisiana Press Association honored her profile of Mardi Gras float designer Henri Schindler and his two Pekinese dogs with a First Place Award in Feature Writing. An excerpt from My Bayou received an Honorable Mention in the University of New Orleans Fall Creative Nonfiction Contest.
Adler also teaches a creative writing workshop of her own design called the Bayou Writing Workshop, which consists of small manuscript groups for students working in any genre. She almost feels guilty getting paid for this work because it’s so much fun.
From time to time, she posts on her blog Emily Every Day, which is a written meditation on the poems of Emily Dickinson. She began the blog with the sincere plan to write every day, hence the title. She kept up that daily output for quite some time. Then the blog became something more like "Emily Every Other Day." Then "Emily Once a Month." Now it’s pretty much "Emily As Often as Possible." Still, it’s all there for anyone who loves Emily.
My Bayou is Constance Adler’s first book but not her last. She is writing a novel, Magician’s Eyes, and a collection of creative nonfiction stories, titled I've Enjoyed My Stay: Works on Paper.