A new publishing enterprise seeks to highlight Gulf Coast art, culture and food, while providing opportunities for local writers. Meet The Cultured Oak creator, author Michael Warner.
-story by Lisa Monti
“There’s a rich talent pool of writers on the Gulf Coast, and historically has been for many years in New Orleans and on the Coast. And there are some good publishing outlets in Mississippi and Louisiana, but it struck me that right here along the Coast there is a lot of talent that’s not been tapped into really,” he said.
Warner unexpectedly set out on the path to publishing while putting together a work of his own. “I was working on a project that turned into a book and I thought a good way to approach it would be to set up a publishing company and make it the first project out the door.”
That project is a newly published book. A Lyle Saxon Reader is a collection of stories by the legendary Times-Picayune reporter whose byline started appearing in the New Orleans newspaper around 1919.
Warner, a native of New Orleans, started working on the anthology back in November 2017.
“A lot had been written by and about Saxon but his early works were largely ignored,” Warner said.
Warner had his interest on Saxon ignited while working on a biography of Charles Richards, a New Orleans artist who was born in the Mississippi Delta in 1909 and died in 1992.
“My mother, Jeanne Warner, knew him quite well. She was a longtime Bay St. Louis resident and she introduced me to him many years ago. I have almost 20 hours of taped interviews with him. His life was just fascinating.”
The research led Warner to Alberta Kinsey, an early French Quarter artist who painted scenes of local courtyards, patios and buildings. “I was researching her life and it turns out she was a close friend of Lyle Saxon,” Warner said.
Writing is the newest layer is Warner’s varied career. He earned a Ph.D. in organic chemistry and did research in St. Louis before deciding to pursue a law degree and combine that with chemistry.
He then accepted a position in San Francisco, heading legal work at a Pfizer Pharmaceuticals research site. He retired from Pfizer a few years ago and now works as an attorney for a small biotech startup in San Francisco. Warner and his wife, Connie, divide their time among Bay St. Louis, the St. Louis area and San Francisco.
Warner said his choice of The Cultured Oak name for his publishing effort is another bit of creative experimentation, tying the iconic Live oak with the South’s literary tradition.
“It’s evocative of the region here and I wanted it to be evocative of literature.”
Warner is looking to expand The Cultured Oak’s offerings by attracting writers looking to be published.
“I’m hoping to find some neophyte writers along the Coast who might have an interest in submitting their writings for publication.”
If you would like to be considered as a guest blogger, send your ideas to info@CulturedOak.com along with some information about yourself. No experience is needed, just a good idea.
Sample a few Cultured Oak stories below!