Festival of Words is on the road, holding readings in different area towns. This months event takes place in Opelousas!

On Wednesday, June 29 at 7:00 p.m., Festival of Words hosts a literary reading and Open Mic at Java Square, 103 W. Landry St. Opelousas. The evening features Kristi Guillory and Christa Cunningham. Guillory is author of the highly acclaimed childrens book, Harper Counts Her Blessings; she will read and discuss her journey to become an author. Cunningham is creative writing director at the Academy of Cultural Arts. She will read original poetry and prose. The evening will include an open mic of literature, music and stories as well as a group poem in which everyone is invited to share a line.

While enjoying the performances, you can order one of Java Squares signature coffees or other refreshing beverages along with bakery goods. The venue proprietor is known for coordinating other community events including the monthly Downtown Makers Market.

Guests are welcome to bring their own poems, songs or stories for the open mic. This free event is suitable for all ages and is sponsored by the Festival of Words Cultural Arts Collective in partnership with Java Square.

Christa Cunningham grew up in Natchitoches, LA (also home to meat pies and a gazillion Christmas lights). She attended Northwestern State University, graduating in 2010 with a degree in English education. After teaching English at Natchitoches Central High School for two years, her family moved to Lafayette in the summer of 2012. She was hired at Opelousas's Magnet Academy for Cultural Arts to teach Creative Writing and high school English. In the ten years she's been at MACA, she's taught many talented students and doubled the enrollment in her Creative Writing program. Every year she guides the Creative Writing students in writing, organizing, and performing MACA's poetry slam. Her students have also participated in the Festival of Words student writing contest for several years. Christa lives in Carencro with her husband and two daughters. She loves reading, binge watching TV shows, starting (and sometimes finishing) craft projects, doing puzzles, and spending time with her family.

Kristi Guillory Reid, a native of Opelousas, LA, is an attorney, public policy and health care expert, and author. Of all of these titles, she is thrilled to add author to her resume. She currently resides in Alexandria, VA. When she noticed a lack of childrens books that featured African American families and strong African American female main characters, she used her love of writing and her experiences raising a toddler, to write her first book, Harper Counts Her Blessings. This book shows how the events of a childs ordinary day can turn out to be extraordinary when they truly reflect upon the blessings in their life. It is a story that highlights themes of reflection, gratitude, and appreciation that both parents and children will enjoy. Since the publication of her book, Kristi has conducted book readings and speaking engagements, both virtually and in person, across the country, and has advocated for increased diversity in childrens literature. For her second publication, Dear Daughter: A Celebration of Love, Kristi has collaborated with other authors to pen a new childrens book to inspire young girls everywhere. The book aims to promote social emotional learning through poetry, prose, and parental testimonials, from a mothers perspective. Dear Daughter is set to release in 2022. Kristis writing has been published in several media outlets, including CNN.com, Washington Parent, The Washington Informer, and PIVOT Magazine. Kristi is a graduate of Loyola University in New Orleans, Carnegie Mellon University and Duke University Law School.