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NORTH CAROLINA—“Beach Baby,” an essay by Wilmington writer Jillian Weiss, has won First Prize in the 2015 Rose Post Creative Nonfiction Competition.

Author Jason Frye, the judge of this year’s contest, said, “The structure of 'Beach Baby' drives the essay—each section pulls you one to the other, and even when it seems to divert, it circles back on itself quite artfully.

“As the essay progresses, it grows in its complexity: a misheard message, the death of a sister, the hole in the heart, jealousy (very complex, but gracefully handled), Down Syndrome, the meaning of the name ‘Jennifer,’ and the ruination of—or perhaps miracle of—Christmas. Simply put, it’s a beautiful piece that gets to the complex heart of trying to make known the unknowable.”

A Winston-Salem native who spent most of her adolescence in London, Weiss returned to North Carolina in 2008 to study at Elon University. A former creative writing instructor for Duke University’s Talent Identification Program, she is currently an MFA candidate at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, where she is writing a collection of essays about her life as a missionary kid in West London.

Sponsored by the North Carolina Writers’ Network and administered by the creative writing department at UNC Wilmington, the Rose Post Creative Nonfiction Competition encourages the creation of lasting nonfiction work that is outside the realm of conventional journalism. The contest is open to any legal resident of North Carolina or member of the NC Writers’ Network. First-, second-, and third-place winners receive $1,000, $300, and $200, respectively, and the winning entry is considered for publication in the magazine Southern Cultures.

Beth Browne of Garner won Second Place for her essay “What My Father Kept.” In addition to working as associate editor for The Main Street Rag Publishing Company, Browne manages a large farm, homeschools her two teens, and sails the NC coast with “her sweetie, Eric.” She has served on the boards of the North Carolina Poetry Society and the South Carolina Writers’ Workshop.

“‘What My Father Kept’ takes a tight look at the individual and gets into depths the short story cannot. As such, the essayist is able to create a picture of her father and give readers insight into him, all while building mystery into it,” Frye said. “It’s that mystery that intrigues me. A very strong piece, it made me want to catalogue my grandfather’s garden shed and see what I might learn there.”

Durham’s Robert Wallace won Third Place for his essay “Where’s Jack Kevorkian?”

“‘Where’s Jack Kevorkian?’ grabs me from the opening line,” Frye said. “This essay is close to perfect.”

Robert Wallace has received an Emerging Artist grant from the Durham Arts Council, and a Writer’s Fellowship from the NC Arts Council. He has had fiction and nonfiction published in various journals and newspapers, and writes a monthly column for the News & Observer. His story "As Breaks the Wave upon the Sea" was the 2010 winner of the Doris Betts Fiction Prize.

Frye also named “Common Prayer” by Jane Andrews and “Moonshine Manhattan” by Agnes Stevens as Honorable Mentions.

Jason Frye is a travel, culinary, and culture writer from Wilmington. After his first experience with North Carolina—a family vacation to the Outer Banks—he felt drawn to the state. He moved here in 2002 to attend UNC-Wilmington and pursue his Masters of Fine Arts in Creative Writing; after graduating in 2005, he stayed and began to explore the state through the lens of a poet, essayist, journalist, culinary critic, and travel writer.

The nonprofit North Carolina Writers’ Network is the state’s oldest and largest literary arts services organization devoted to writers at all stages of development. For additional information, visit www.ncwriters.org.

 

GREENSBORO—Imagine two cars get into a fender-bender. Now imagine the drivers telling a policeman the story of what happened. One driver claims the other car stopped suddenly, causing the accident; the driver of the car who was hit claims the other person shouldn’t have been following so closely.

Both people are describing the same event…but who’s telling the truth?

The idea that a character’s reality can change the way a story is told is at the heart of this year’s Master Class in Fiction, offered as part of the North Carolina Writers’ Network 2015 Spring Conference. Led by Valerie Nieman, a creative writing instructor at NC A&T State University and the author of the award-winning novel, Blood Clay, the workshop is titled, “A Matter of Interpretation.”

This class examines the idea that characters are presented through their appearance, actions, and words—yet what is evident to other characters within the story may not be accurate, and the reader likewise must often ferret out the truth behind the surface. We'll explore how a story may hinge on the difference between a character's apparent reality and the hidden truth, and how the counterpoint between differing elements of a character's depiction can power the story. We will do a “two versions” exercise based on a scar or tattoo.

Please submit up to 1,500 words from a single work, along with your current CV or resume detailing your literary experience, no later than March 27. Submissions should be saved as an MS Word document, using double-spaced, 12-point, Times New Roman font, with numbered pages, and sent as an attachment to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Accepted registrants will also be asked to circulate their drafts to others in the class prior to the conference.

Attendees who sign up for Jacob Paul's workshop "Sentence Aesthetics: Using Micro-Poetics to Create Rhythm in Prose" will strip their fiction down to the floorboards and joists. This workshop will focus on how writers can leverage sentence syntax, lexicon, and length to build and release tension in prose. Registrants will begin by studying several examples, then outline general principles, create a sample scene, and end in a discussion about application. Paul's debut novel, Sarah/Sara, was named one of that year’s five best first fictions by Poets & Writers.

There are also workshops available for those interested in writing historical fiction, and those interested in writing for children.

Charlie Lovett will teach “When the Past Isn’t Past: Using History in Fiction.” Lovett’s multi-strand novels, including the New York Times bestseller The Bookman’s Tale, explore the often complex relationship between past and present. In this workshop he will help participants examine ways to incorporate the past into narratives, regardless of when those narratives happen to be set. A little bit of a lecture, a little bit of an in-class exercise, and lots of Q & A.

For those interested in writing for children, Eleanora E. Tate will lead participants in discussions about selected literary devices they might not be familiar with, how to identify them in manuscripts, and how to apply them in their own work. Tate has conducted creative writing workshops in schools, libraries, and universities for children and adults for over forty years, and is the author of eleven novels for young readers. Her workshop is titled “Triggers, Transitions and Tone, Oh My! Using Literary Devices in Children’s Literature.”

The North Carolina Writers’ Network 2015 Spring Conference will be held Saturday, April 18, in the MHRA Building at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Registration is now open.

The nonprofit North Carolina Writers’ Network is the state’s oldest and largest literary arts services organization devoted to writers at all stages of development. For additional information, visit www.ncwriters.org.

 

GREENSBORO—From “The Iliad” to “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” poetry has been a storytelling force for thousands of years. Poetry examines the relationships around us: in politics, myth, and among our families and friends. The genre is unique in its power to engage the listener and serve as a catalyst for change.

At the upcoming North Carolina Writers’ Network 2015 Spring Conference, attendees have the opportunity to examine this time-honored method of storytelling and search for the deeper connections in the fabric of everyday life in workshops led by three highly acclaimed poets.

Joseph Mills, author of five poetry collections including This Miraculous Turning (Press 53, 2014), will lead the Master Class in Poetry, “Changing Stories.”

In his Tiffany Aching series, Terry Pratchett writes, “There’s always a story. It’s all stories, really. The sun coming up every day is a story. Everything’s got a story in it. Change the story, change the world.” In this workshop, we will consider the power of changing the stories we live among. This may be a matter of re-telling a story, turning it, or tearing it apart. We may consider fairytale retellings (such as Anne Sexton’s Transformations), changes in perspective (such as Gregory McGuire’s Wicked), or examples of ekphrasis (such as W.H. Auden’s “Musee des Beaux Arts” or Billy Collins’ “The Brooklyn Museum of Art” in which the narrator walks into a painting by Frederick Edwin Church). In doing so, the emphasis will be on practical exercises to generate material. In addition to looking at submitted poems, we will be taking advantage of the workshop’s two-part structure to generate material and then return to it.

Please submit three poems, along with your current CV or resume detailing your literary experience, no later than March 27. Poems should be saved in a single MS Word document, using single-spaced, 12-point, Times New Roman font, and sent as an attachment to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..Accepted registrants will also be asked to circulate their drafts to others in the class prior to the conference.

Rachel Richardson, a 2013-14 National Endowment for the Arts Fellow and author of two poetry collections, including the forthcoming Hundred-Year Wave (Carnegie Mellon University Press, 2016), will lead the poetry workshop, “Excavating Artifacts: Poetry and Documentary Forms.”

How can a poem confront and engage history, politics, place, and myth? For poetry that seeks to explore the past, or witness the present, or speak out of a deeply-rooted landscape, it is easy to revert to comfortable modes of telling. How do we make these stories live, without slipping into nostalgia or polemic? To shake loose our stories and invigorate language and form, it can be helpful to borrow from the documentarian's tools. This workshop will explore ways of writing and revising using primary source documents, such as newspaper articles, family photographs, transcribed interviews, court cases, letters, keepsakes, and more. Participants should bring a couple of "documents" (to be interpreted as loosely as you like) that interest you to work with—anything that has a story to tell. We will spend workshop time discussing published “documentary poems” and their strategies, and doing generative writing exercises that will spark your own poems.

In the afternoon, conference-goers will have the rare opportunity to take a workshop from the presenter of this year’s Keynote Address. Jaki Shelton Green, a 2014 inductee of the North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame, will address the general session at 11:00 am. After lunch, she’ll lead the poetry workshop, “Conversations in the Lines, or Eavesdropping on Yourself.”

What are the relationships you have with your poems that inspire or inhibit your voice from “telling” or showing up? Bring poems that you have strong relationships with. We will explore where these relationships, like kinships and friendships, intersect, collide, marry, divorce, confront, and unite in our poetics. How do these relationships limit or help to push the territory of language? How do these relationships inform, demand, dominate, or suppress? (Secrets, lies, fantasies . . .) There will also be a focus on selected poems that illustrate “what we talk about when we look at ourselves.”

The North Carolina Writers’ Network 2015 Spring Conference will be held Saturday, April 18, in the MHRA Building at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Registration is now open.

The nonprofit North Carolina Writers’ Network is the state’s oldest and largest literary arts services organization devoted to writers at all stages of development. For additional information, visit www.ncwriters.org.

 

 
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