When Kalamu called and told me his and Ayo’s plans for their second Runagate collaboration with UNO Press, I knew we had won the lottery.
Jarvis DeBerry, the Times-Picayune columnist, was ready to publish a retrospective of his career—a twenty-one-year narrative thread through New Orleans’s recent history: from arrival in New Orleans, through Katrina and its devastating aftermath, and on toward the recent past.
The through lines were many—systemic inequality examined in particular moments, revisited again at important points in time. A murder epidemic discussed in human terms rather than statistics. Politicians meeting or failing to meet historical moments.
Not going to lie—in a city cluttered with literary portraits—I Feel To Believe is arguably the most accurate mirror the city has ever had. Over twenty-one years, DeBerry has documented the upheavals, triumphs, and lingering strains in the granular moments as they happened, and to see them together gave me a new perspective on the history we had just lived through.
Great books build over time. When we gathered for the party celebrating Jarvis’s upcoming kidney transplant and the release of I Feel to Believe—I knew that we had assembled a book that could give the city a chance to look at itself honestly. And I am so grateful to One Book for giving us the opportunity to study this work for a year—and to have this chance to see who we have been so that we can talk about who we want to become.
Looking forward to seeing y’all in the ether this week and at events around town all year! I Feel To Believe! And I hope y’all will too.