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NC Literary Hall of Fame




BOONE—Registration for the North Carolina Writers' Network 2017 Squire Summer Writing Workshops closed at noon on Wednesday, June 28

On-site registration is not availabe for this conference. 

There were seven important reasons to register for this year's Workshops.

    1. Joseph Bathanti, former NC poet laureate and winner of the 2016 NC Award for Literature, will lead the poetry workshop, “Writing the Longer Narrative Poem.”
    2. TripAdvisor named Boone the number-two "Diamond in the Rough” for vacation destinations.
    3. Granite Falls Brewing Company is donating 10 percent of proceeds from their new Tailyho Belgian Quad beer to NCWN. Guess what town is on the way to Boone from much of North Carolina? Granite Falls.
    4. Sheryl Monks will lead the fiction workshop, “How Bad Things Happen to Good Characters,” and she counts John Ehle, Robert Morgan, and Toni Morrison among her favorite authors, so you know her class is going to be pretty awesome.
    5. There’s a great new-ish indie bookstore in Boone: Foggy Pine Books.
    6. Eric G. Wilson will lead the creative nonfiction workshop, “Creating Presence: Voice in Creative Nonfiction.” Eric believes your “voice” is a muscle that can be exercised, strengthened, and developed. You won’t come home with the same voice you left with, that’s for sure.
    7. The average temperature in Boone in July is 76 degrees.

The Squire Summer Writing Workshops offer conferencegoers the chance to study elements of one genre with one instructor over the course of the program. Attendees will work on their own manuscripts, as well as those of their peers, while also attending readings, special presentations, and taking advantage of built-in writing time, in a town TripAdvisor named the number two “diamond in the rough” for vacation destinations.


BOONE—"All across the state exist dedicated, selfless folks—teachers in the main—holding on doggedly to poetry and literature," says former North Carolina poet laureate Joseph Bathanti, "folks who still believe that our stories will save us and that our children’s futures, their very humanity depends on our not losing sight of what beats so passionately in us.”

Poets who register for the North Carolina Writers' Network 2017 Squire Summer Writing Workshops will have the opportunity to spend the weekend in class with Joseph, working on their manuscripts as well as those of their peers. It's a rare chance to learn not only from a former poet laureate, but also the 2016 winner of the North Carolina Award for Literature, the state's highest civilian honor.

The conference runs July 13-16 at Appalachian State University in Boone. Registration is open through June 28.

"Writing the Longer Narrative Poem" with Joseph Bathanti will focus on writing longer poems that tell stories through utilizing classic conventions of fiction such as dialogue, plot, conflict, characterization, setting/place, etc., while still relying heavily on key elements of poetry such as compressed, often impressionistic, language; rhythm; stylized line and stanza breaks; and attention to sound. We’ll strive to balance the image-charged voltage of poetry with traditionally discursive narrative strategies of fiction and creative nonfiction, focusing on the occasion of the poem, and the dramatic situation that inspired it. Participants will be provided with examples of narrative poems aimed at triggering the narrative impulse.

Register now; each registrant should be ready to handle the intensive instruction and atmosphere of the workshop.

Joseph Bathanti is former Poet Laureate of North Carolina (2012-14) and recipient of the 2016 North Carolina Award for Literature. He is the author of ten books of poetry, including Communion Partners; Anson County; The Feast of All Saints; This Metal, nominated for the National Book Award, and winner of the Oscar Arnold Young Award; Land of Amnesia; Restoring Sacred Art, winner of the 2010 Roanoke Chowan Prize, awarded annually by the North Carolina Literary and Historical Association for best book of poetry in a given year; Sonnets of the Cross; Concertina, winner of the 2014 Roanoke Chowan Prize; and The 13th Sunday after Pentecost, released by LSU Press in 2016. His novel, East Liberty, won the 2001 Carolina Novel Award. His novel, Coventry, won the 2006 Novello Literary Award. His book of stories, The High Heart, won the 2006 Spokane Prize. They Changed the State: The Legacy of North Carolina’s Visiting Artists, 1971-1995, his book of nonfiction, was published in early 2007. His recent book of personal essays, Half of What I Say Is Meaningless, winner of the Will D. Campbell Award for Creative Nonfiction, is from Mercer University Press. A new novel, The Life of the World to Come, was released from University of South Carolina Press in late 2014. Bathanti is Professor of Creative Writing at Appalachian State University in Boone, and the University’s Watauga Residential College Writer-in-Residence. He served as the 2016 Charles George VA Medical Center Writer-in-Residence in Asheville.

Upon winning the NC Award for Literature, Joseph said, "this distinction means everything, since at its heart is the dazzling and varied literary community comprised of every single writer across the state."

And he's taught—and blurbed books for—plenty.

A quick scroll through Joseph's page on RateMyProfessors.com shows what intense loyalty his students feel toward the man and the teacher; how influential he's been in the writing lives of his students; and the way he knows to be demanding enough to draw out a writer's best work. These are the talents of a gifted, experienced teacher.

Don't miss out on this chance to learn from one of our best living poets: register now for the Squire Summer Writing Residency.

The Squire Summer Writing Workshops offer conferencegoers the chance to study elements of one genre with one instructor over the course of the program. Attendees will work on their own manuscripts, as well as those of their peers, while also attending readings, special presentations, and taking advantage of built-in writing time, in a town TripAdvisor named the number two “diamond in the rough” for vacation destinations.

Sheryl Monks will lead the fiction course, "How Bad Things Happen to Good Characters: Compression, Tension, and Catharsis in Fiction." Eric G. Wilson will lead the class in creative nonfiction, “Creating Presence: Voice in Creative Nonfiction.”

Registration is capped at forty-two registrants, first-come, first-served. Register now.


CULLOWHEE—In 2013, we held the Squire Summer Writing Residency at Western Carolina University, where Kathryn Stripling Byer taught for so many years, and she led the poetry workshop at the Residency that weekend.

WCU was a welcoming host and venue, with one exception: in the building where we slept and took our classes, the air conditioning was stuck on overdrive, and we were freezing.

And then, after our first lunch together, Kay disappeared.

It’s not unusual for an instructor to isolate themselves before a workshop session, to take some time to review lesson plans or read manuscripts, so I wasn’t concerned. That’s not what Kay was doing, though. Five minutes before the workshop was to resume, Kay pulled up to the building’s back door and asked me and Charles to help unload her car.

She had driven home, collected every blanket and (of course) quilt she could find, filled her car with them, and brought them to share with her students staying in that icebox of a dorm.

Kay Byer, in everything I ever saw her do, was an elegant rebuttal of the idea that great artists have to be selfish and self-absorbed to produce work of excellence. She wrote some of the finest poetry I have ever read, and was one of the finest people I have ever known.

Kay died Monday evening of lymphoma. She was active, vital, and—in NCWN board member Nicki Leone’s phrase—“instinctively generous” almost to the very end. She led a workshop at NCWN-West’s “A Day for Writers” in Sylva only a month before she passed.

That was the last in a long, long list of services she rendered to the cause of poetry, especially in her adopted home state of North Carolina, and most especially in her beloved mountains of western North Carolina. She was instrumental in the founding of NCWN-West, the Network’s program to serve writers in the westernmost reaches of the state, and served for many years as their Jackson County Rep, organizing a monthly poetry series at City Lights Bookstore in Sylva. She served on the Network’s board, led workshops for us at several Residencies and conferences, gave keynote readings, and helped organize (and starred in) fundraisers. She won the North Carolina Award for Literature in 2001, and was inducted into the North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame in 2012.

Most notably, she was the state’s first female Poet Laureate, a position she held from 2005 to 2009, and in which she was a tireless promoter of the written word, especially in the public schools.

That list is woefully abbreviated and incomplete, but the Internet only has so much room. Besides, if you are reading this, you probably don’t need me to tell you about the impact Kay Byer had. You probably felt it yourself. Her friend Lee Smith once said you can’t spit in North Carolina without hitting a writer; to that I will add that you can’t spit twice in North Carolina without hitting a writer befriended, taught, mentored, and/or inspired by Kathryn Stripling Byer.

She never shied to state her opinion and stand her ground, to use her position and influence as a Poet Laureate to bring attention to causes she found just or unjust, and she did so while being scrupulously fair, even to those she opposed. On several occasions I was happy to have her wise counsel, or just to hear her warm, kind voice in the middle of a challenging time.

I am one of a great many who will miss that voice. I will miss her counsel, and her company. I will miss the poet and teacher, advocate and activist. Mostly, though, I’m going to miss my friend.

Ed Southern
Executive Director
North Carolina Writers' Network


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