The old Bywater house of poet Lee Grue is tucked in a shady garden, complete with a turquoise iron fence and the grave of the unknown poet. Here, for the past three decades, Lee Grue has nurtured her art and the souls of other artists and wanderers. “If Lee Grue did not exist,” as one reviewer said, “the New Orleans poetry community would have had to invent her.” She has always felt that art and writing can help with the most grave problems of our city. Over the years Lee's creative efforts have been designed to bring the disparate communities of New Orleans together in dialogue, public readings, and print, as well as organizing artists’ gatherings at notable venues such as The Ryder, The Quorum, the Sphinx, The First Backyard Poetry Theater, and more recently, The Gold Mine Saloon.
“Lee Grue has established herself as one of the outstanding poets of this region. [Her work] reflects a fine feeling for place, Texas and Louisiana, the music and quirks of the deep Southland we live in – along with a profound sense of displacement. This displacement, I believe, is a natural result of Lee's wandering, questioning spirit, her unrelenting intelligence, a spirit which recognizes the fact of home, but never too comfortably...” ~ Tom Dent, former Executive Director, The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Foundation
Lee Grue's poetry, like the roux that makes a good gumbo, is a perfect blend of spices--the right amount of New Orleans file, a flawless mix of worldly wit and charm, the exact rendering of cayenne pepper that makes her art and craft unforgettable. Grue's poetic voice is one to be richly savored. ~ Sue Brannan Walker, Negative Capability
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Poet, fiction writer, journalist, Director of the New Orleans Poetry Forum, Director of the first Backyard Poetry Theater, and editor of New Laurel Review, Lee Meitzen Grue’s books include: Poems: Trains and Other Intrusions; French Quarter Poems; In the Sweet Balance of the Flesh; Goodbye, Silver, Silver Cloud; and Three Poets in New Orleans.
Lee Grue has always been inspired by New Orleans music. For years she has written poems about the music at live performances she witnessed, later performing these poems with Jazz poet Yictove and her lifetime friend, flute player, Eluard Burt.
Grue and Burt collaborated for many years with jazz and poetry. They first worked together at The Quorum Club in the sixties and renewed their collaboration in the eighties, when he returned from L. A., with performances in clubs and universities. With Burt’s wife, Kichea as producer, they issued a CD, Live! On Frenchmen Street in 2000.
Although interrupted by one of the hurricane threats which scattered the recording musicians, they finished another full album of jazz and poetry which is soon to be released. Two great artists, Yictove and Eluard Burt both died in 2007. Except for this CD, Eluard Burt's death after the storm ended a long artistic friendship.
Many of Grue's jazz poems and her work about the flood, will soon see print: A book of new and selected poems: "Downtown" is forthcoming from Trembling Pillow Press.