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A. J. Hartley Wins Manly Wade Wellman Award

From our friends at Bull Spec:

The North Carolina Speculative Fiction Foundation is proud to announce the winner of the 2017 Manly Wade Wellman Award for North Carolina Science Fiction and Fantasy, after the result of voter selection from the nominees, in turn the result of voter selection from an eligibility list of over 100 novels. The award was presented on July 15, 2017, at ConGregate 4 / DeepSouthCon 55 at the Radisson Hotel High Point to Charlotte author A. J. Hartley for Steeplejack, published by Tor Teen.

From New York where he was appearing at another event, Hartley sent his appreciation for the award with the following remarks:

“I’m honored to receive an award whose namesake affirms the bond between the region and speculative fiction, particularly at a time when reading seems so crucially important as a pleasurable way to hone our instincts for critical thinking and empathy. I am doubly pleased to be the first person to receive the award as a writer for young people, and with a book which attempts to wrestle with serious social issues. My brand of fantasy is one which scrutinizes reality through a distorting mirror, rather than trying to escape from the reality entirely, so I’m especially delighted to find that Steeplejack has resonated for North Carolina readers. I’m so grateful to the organizers of the award, the voters, the convention circuit which helps forge a sense of community in the spec fiction world and to the other excellent writers, many of them friends, whose work was under consideration. That sense of a thoughtful, connected and thoughtful community is a great testament to where we are and, I hope, to better times ahead.”

The Manly Wade Wellman Award was founded to recognize outstanding achievement in science fiction and fantasy novels written by North Carolina authors. The 2017 award, voted on by the combined membership of North Carolina science fiction and fantasy conventions (illogiCon, ConCarolinas, and ConGregate), covers novels published in 2016. Nominations opened at illogiCon in January ahead of a final voting round after ConCarolinas, with the award presented at ConGregate in July.

The award is named for long-time North Carolina author [and North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame inductee] Manly Wade Wellman with the permission of his estate.

Where the A-List Literary Celebrities Mingle

For more than a quarter century, the North Carolina Literary Review (NCLR) has published most of the great writers from North Carolina as well as high-quality writing about the Tar Heel State. Part scholarly journal, part literary rag, NCLR offers—as one early reviewer put it— “everything you ever wanted out of a literary publication but never dared to demand.”

NCLR publishes:

“…interviews and literary criticism about North Carolina writers and high-quality poetry, fiction, drama, and creative nonfiction by North Carolina writers or set in North Carolina. Our definition of a North Carolina writer is anyone who currently lives in North Carolina, has lived in North Carolina, or uses North Carolina as subject matter.”

What separates NCLR from many other journals, beyond their ridiculously extensive author list that reads like a A-list celebrity invite to the greatest literary event on Earth, is the artwork and graphic design that accompany each issue. These design elements act as supplemental material for the text, and the overall layout is created with the reader in mind.

NCLR publishes a print edition and offers additional material only online. The 2017 issue includes the annual contest winners (see below) as well as poetry by NC Literary Hall of Fame inductees Betty Adcock, Kathryn Stripling Byer, Fred Chappell, and Robert Morgan; as well as poetry by NCWN trustee Paul Jones, Kathryn Kirkpatrick, and others.

The majority of fiction and nonfiction (not including interviews) published by NCLR comes through their annual contests.

Poets and prose writers should submit to the magazine through three annual contests:

Doris Betts Fiction Prize (January 1 – February 15)
James Applewhite Poetry Prize (April 1 – May 15)
Alex Albright Creative Nonfiction Prize (Dates TBA)

See each contest’s submission guidelines for word count and more. Most issues are themed, but creative writing sections of the magazine don’t always follow the theme. There are several special sections to each issue as well.

Subscriptions are $15 for one year or $25 for two; Institutional and and Foreign subscriptions are available as well. Subscribe here.

Visit NCLR online at or on Facebook.

Fifteen Rules to Write By

Keith Flynn is a widely traveled poet and perfomer (and a longtime friend of the North Carolina Writers’ Network).

The former lyricist and lead singer of The Crystal Zoo, Flynn is the author of five collections of poetry and a book of essays. His poems have appeared in hundreds of magazines, journals, and anthologies, and he has been nominated for the Putlizer Prize and the National Book Award. He was awarded the Paumanok Poetry Prize in 1996 and the 2013 North Carolina Literary Fellowship. He is also the founder and managing editor of Asheville Poetry Review. His website is

He offered to share his “Fifteen Rules to Write By,” which originally appeared in his essay collection, The Rhythm Method, Razzmatazz and Memory: How To Make Your Poetry Swing.

They’re essential building blocks for anyone hoping to publish and to comport themselves as a professional writer.


Fifteen Rules to Write By
by Keith Flynn

1. Always allow your true nature to be expressed and apply no limitations to your beginning flow. Let come what may, as
much as possible. “The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom” (William Blake).

2. Inspiration is fleeting. Technique is eternal.

3. “Compose aloud: poetry is a sound” (Basil Bunting).

4. Music is the universal language because it is mathematical. Always know the number of beats in your line, the number of lines that want to be a stanza.

5. Never fall back on Cliché, or use any metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech that you have ever seen in print.

6. Never use a long word when a short one will do. Scientific terms are rarely short, but have their purpose if they do not
have to be explained. Never explain, never apologize, never withdraw.

7. Examine every sentence for more active verbs. Never use the passive where you can use the active.

8. Clear your poem of abstractions. Never use an abstract concept when a concrete image will do. “No ideas but in things” (William Carlos Williams).

9. Fear gerunds, participles, and adjectives that bleed your nouns of energy.

10. Beware the artificial music of prepositional phrases. Remove them when you can.

11. Give a poem the distance to speak clearly and never send a new poem to be published. Compose in a flood. Edit in a trickle.

12. Cut out every word you possibly can and realize that every line is a muscle in the body of the poem. Be muscular.

13. Less is more. Repeat number twelve. Condensation is the final frontier.

14. Admit no impediment. A poem must flow with authority. Remove all obstacles, technical, psychological, or musical.

15. Rhythm loves proximity. Balance all like sounds for greatest impact. Avoid syncopation unless that is your goal. Variance in rhythm creates surface tension, propulsion and momentum.

P.S. Start the poem with action and leave it in motion.

Rockvale Review Ready to Launch

For all you poets out there, there’s a new kid in town, and a great new venue for showcasing your poetry.

Rockvale Review is currently reading for its inaugural issue to be published in November. Seekers of “bold and vulnerable poetry,” Rockvale Review:

…believes language is power, and poetry is one conduit into unleashing that power. We believe poets have a unique way of seeing the world and sharing experiences, emotions, dreams and passions. Their voices raise awareness, challenge stereotypes, create beauty, pose questions, speak personal truths, and spark imagination. We wanted to create a poetry journal that celebrates the poetic voice and supports the journey of poets. All voices are welcome here.

Like many literary journals, Rockvale Review will publish online, but the flexibility of technology also allows its editors to live in various places around the Southeast and Midwest, North Carolina poet Nancy Posey among them. For the full masthead, click here.

Poets interested in placing their work with Rockvale Review should note their two open reading periods, July 1 through September 30 (with an issue published in November) and January 1 through March 31 (with an issue published in May). Submissions will not be read outside of these reading periods.

Send 1-3 poems, no longer than 75 lines each. All submissions are read blind. Currently, issues are not themed. For full submission guidelines, click here.

Keep your eye on for the new release in November. You can also follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

CHPL Celebrates Banned Books with Trading Cards

National Banned Books Week runs September 24-30. It’s a time for readers, librarians, and booksellers to celebrate those works that sometimes find themselves on the wrong side of school administrators. Books such as Catcher in the Rye, Slaughterhouse Five, and even Where’s Waldo? have all been in the crosshairs at one point or another.

In anticipation of this week-long celebration, Chapel Hill Public Library and the Cultural Arts Division of the Town of Chapel Hill Parks & Recreation Department are teaming up to host the 5th Annual Banned Books Week Artist-Designed Trading Cards competition:

The Chapel Hill Public Library (Library), in partnership with the Cultural Arts Division, celebrates intellectual freedom and Banned Books Week in an interesting, fun, and unique way. We ask local artists to create small scale (5” wide x 7” tall) works of art inspired by a banned/challenged book or author.

Based on their artistic excellence, seven of these works will be selected by a jury to receive $100 awards and be printed as trading cards, with the artwork on the front and the artist’s statement and information about the highlighted book or author on the back. All entries will be displayed during BBW and beyond at the Library and selected artist-designed cards will be printed and distributed to the public at the Library and other locations in the area. A special $100 award for best youth entry will also be given to an artist under 18 years of age.

Open to artists of all ages within Orange, Durham, Wake, Chatham, and Alamance Counties.

The deadline is August 28.

All submissions must be in hard copy format on paper (digital artwork is encouraged, but must be submitted on paper. Artists, please print in high quality.).

Original artwork will be returned to the artist at the conclusion of the project unless the piece wins. Winning entries will be auctioned to support the Friends of Chapel Hill Public Library, a 501-C3 non-profit. Artists may submit up to three different works of art.

All submissions must measure 5 inches wide by 7 tall inches (no horizontal artwork accepted) and include a ¼ inch bleed on all sides (meaning important words and images should be ¼ inch inside of the edges of the artwork; see diagrams and template). Final printed cards will measure 2.5 wide by 3.5 inches tall; the standard size of a trading card.

Each submission must be accompanied by a complete submission form that includes name, age and contact information for the artist; the title of the book and name of the author that inspired the artwork; and a brief 50-word-or-less statement of how the piece reflects the book and/or author.

Nonconforming entries will not be eligible for exhibition or award. By submitting artwork to this exhibition, artists are granting Chapel Hill Public Library the right to reproduce artwork images for publicity and/or sale of reproductions of the submitted design in any medium to benefit the library.

A Selection Committee comprising local arts and literary professionals, Library staff and Cultural Arts Commission members will review all complete submissions and select seven finalists whose works will be printed as trading cards.

The project will be publicized in the local media, the Town via website, social media, mailing lists, and in-house promotion at the library.

For delivery in person, by mail or for additional information please contact:

Christine Bennett
Chapel Hill Public Library

100 Library Drive
Chapel Hill, NC 27514
T: (919) 969-2021

For ideas and inspiration, explore these lists of banned books:




Find Your Next Summer Read

Summertime means vacation time. If you’re anything like us, your first thought, when planning for a trip, is “What am I going to bring with me to read?”

Lucky for us, The Expert Editor, an Australian professional editing and proofreading company, has developed “The Ultimate Flowchart for Finding Your Next Book.”

This infographic is loaded to the brim with authors and books that call to all types of readers. The best part about it? Most of these paths lead to multiple books for you to choose from – each with a quick word to describe the story that lies between its covers.

The flowchart allows users to choose fiction or nonfiction (or, eventually, poetry). Then it guides users through different genres and subject matters until hopefully pairing the user with his or her ideal read.

Someone interested in reading classic dystopian fiction, for example, is guided to either 1984 by George Orwell or The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells. Poets are led to Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman, The Complete Poetry of Edgar Allen Poe, or The Selected Poems of Emily Dickinson. Two Cormac McCarthy books are offered up under “Westerns,” but not Blood Meridian, which is arguably his one true western.

Nonfiction leans modern, with J.D. Vance’s Hillbilly Elegy (“Rustbelt Politics”), Wild by Cheryl Strayed (“Cathartic Journey”), and Born a Crime by Trevor Noah (“Political Humor”).

Check out the flowchart here, and choose your next great summer read!

The Statue of Liberty Is a Redhead

Every time a poem gets rejected, another angel gets its wings.

Or something like that.

In his acclaimed poem “Howl,” Beat poet Allen Ginsberg claimed the energetic books of Jack Kerouac, William Burroughs, and Neal Cassady were all “published in Heaven.”

Luckily for today’s poets, Heaven is a place on Earth.

Redheaded Stepchild literary magazine “only accepts poems that have been rejected by other magazines.” It’s the Statue of Liberty of literary rags: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses….”

….And those poems rejected, sometimes multiple times, by other journals.

All poems published by Redheaded Stepchild can be read for free. The most recent issue includes includes Cindy Brookshire, Giavanna Munafo, and Joan Wiese Johannes. Both emerging and established authors appear in past issues, archived here.

Redheadead Stepchild has published poems rejected by Atlantic Monthly, Crazyhorse Literary Journal, Gettysburg Review…and even their own journal! That’s right: Redheaded Stepchild rejects 85 percent of all submissions, which is pretty meta when you think about it.

Don’t let that disuade you from submitting. Send 1-3 poems by following the instructions here. Redheaded Stepchild is “open to a wide variety of poetry and holds no allegiance to any particular style or school.” They accept submissions in February and August only. (So a submission period is coming up!)

On the journal’s home page, there is a list of words that include the word “red,” such as “endured,” “sacred,” and of course, “authored.” Red is pretty much everywhere. And one need only scan the list of journals that have rejected work eventually published by this magazine to realize that, indeed, all of us are Redheaded Stepchildren, in need of more outlets like this for those poems of ours that have been unfairly turned out into the cold.

Visit them on the web at or on Facebook.

Ride the Poetry Super Highway All Night Long

Earlier this month, the North Carolina Writers’ Network hosted our first-ever Online Open Mic. (In fact, we just posted the audio to SoundCloud, so if you’d like to give a listen, click here!)

But we’re not the only ones taking advantage of new technology to connect poets across the state and around the world.

Poetry Super Highway, hosted by Blog Talk Radio, is a live “open poetry reading” that happens one Sunday each month:

Tune in to listen to poets from all over the world read their poetry. Better yet, plan on calling in to read a poem live on the air. No content or style restrictions. Use it as an opportunity to promote your new poetry book or project and let us know what’s happening in your local poetry world! Hosted by Poetry Super Highway’s Rick Lupert.

Poets from all over the world call in at the appointed time and either listen, read a poem, or hopefully, both!

Can’t listen or participate live? You can listen to the archives here.

PSH’s Father’s Day edition featured poets from Washington, D.C.; Covington, Louisiana; Sault-St. Maria, Canada; Birmingham, Alabama; Tuscon, Arizona; and St. Louis, Missouri.

PSH has been going on so long that the host, Rick Lupert, has “no idea when [they] started.” Unofficially, it appears they’re at 131 episodes, so, well done there!

Rick Lupert has been involved in the Los Angeles poetry community since 1990. He is the recipient of the 2014 Beyond Baroque Distinguished Service Award for service to the Los Angeles poetry community. He served for two years as a co-director of the Valley Contemporary Poets, a non-profit literary organization, established in 1980, which produces readings and publications out of the San Fernando Valley. He is the author of eight free ebooks and runs the website

The next open poetry reading is Sunday, August 20, at 2:00 pm.

at Length Explores Form and the Limit of Our Attention Spans

“Behind a Little House” series by Manuel Cosentino

It’s revolutionary, really, in this day and age, when even our government communicates to its citizens in 140-character tweets, to devote an entire literary publication to “ambitious, in-depth writing.” After all, a human is now said to have less attention span than a goldfish.

And yet.

At Length, based mostly in the Triangle, has garnered attention in The New Yorker, The Times Literary Supplement, NPR, Poets & Writers, and The Wall Street Journal.

Its aim? To create “ways for readers, listeners, and viewers to interact with noteworthy long work, and other publications have noticed.”

Much of the writing published by at Length is not only, well, long, but also shares a careful attention to structure, often playing with form and narrative in unusual ways.

For example, the most recent essay by Colette LaBouff focuses on “surprise, shooting, yoga, and writing” through forty-nine brief flashes of speculation, observation, and memories.

“The Big Father,” an essay by Jeff Oakes, has such a complicated structure, its probably easiest if you just read about it for yourself.

But at Length’s writers do much more than simply play academic games with form: many of its authors may present their work in new ways, but what the pieces all share is heart. There are stories about women with newfound independence, ruminations by new parents, and recollections about the freedom of boyhood.

The poetry too pays close attention to form but mostly eshews traditional rhyming and structure.

“There are a few things I look for as an editor,” says Jonathan Farmer, Editor-in-Chief and Poetry Editor of at Length. “I want to draw from a variety of experiences and perspectives, ways of being in the world, ways of seeing it and trying to respond to it through language. At root, though, the one truly essential achievement is creating enough vitality and interest to compel and reward the experience of (the time and sometimes effort of) reading a long poem.”

The current incarnation of at Length was launched in 2009 as an “online-only, print-friendly publication with added offerings in music, art, and photography.”

Past contributors include poets Elaine Bleakney, Tyree Daye, and Alan Shapiro; fiction writers Tayler Heuston, Matthew Neill Null, and Meaghan Mulholland; and nonfiction by Ben Miller, Angela Palm, and Trace Ramsey.

at Length also features photography, writing on music, and art.

All work published by at Length can be read for free, here.

at Length opens for submissions briefly about once each year. Although they are not currently open to submissions, those hoping to publish with at Length can sign up for their e-mails, follow them on Twitter, or become a fan on Facebook.

Tracy K. Smith Named U.S. Poet Laureate

Tracy K. Smith, U.S. Poet Laureate

The U.S. Library of Congress has named Tracy K. Smith as the new U.S. Poet Laureate.

Smith, 45, won the Pulitzer-Prize for her poetry collection Life on Mars and was a National Book Award finalist for nonfiction three years later for her memoir, Ordinary Light. She will serve a one-year term.

According to Newsday:

The laureate’s responsibilities are few, allowing appointees to establish individual projects and priorities, such as the workshops for women organized by Maxine Kumin. The job’s official title is the lofty ‘Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry,’ with a more grounded stipend of $35,000. The laureate ‘serves as the nation’s official lightning rod for the poetic impulse of Americans,’ according to the library, and ‘seeks to raise the national consciousness to a greater appreciation of the reading and writing of poetry.’

Publisher’s Weekly offered this round-up:

Other poets to have held the position include Charles Wright, Natasha Trethewey, Philip Levine, W.S. Merwin, Kay Ryan, Charles Simic, Donald Hall, Ted Kooser, Louise Glück, Billy Collins, Stanley Kunitz, Robert Pinsky, Robert Hass, and Rita Dove. The position has existed since 1937 and requires its holder to, according the Library of Congress, ‘raise the national consciousness to a greater appreciation of the reading and writing of poetry,’ a duty that has historically been interpreted differently by each holder of the title.

Tracy K. Smith was born in Massachusetts and raised in northern California. She earned a BA from Harvard University and an MFA in creative writing from Columbia University. From 1997 to 1999 she held a Stegner fellowship at Stanford University.

Smith is the author of three books of poetry, including Life on Mars, the Laughlin Award–winning Duende, and the Cave Canem Poetry Prize–winning The Body’s Question. Each was published by Graywolf Press. Her memoir, Ordinary Light, was a finalist for the 2015 National Book Award. In addition to the aforementioned honors, she has won a Whiting Award, a Robert Creeley Award, a Rona Jaffe Writers Award, and Columbia University’s Medal for Excellence.

Smith currently serves as the Roger S. Berlind ’52 Professor in the Humanities and director of the creative writing program at Princeton University. Her fourth poetry collection, Wade in the Water, is forthcoming in April, 2018.

On being appointed to serve as Poet Laureate, Smith said, “I am profoundly honored. As someone who has been sustained by poems and poets, I understand the powerful and necessary role poetry can play in sustaining a rich inner life and fostering a mindful, empathic and resourceful culture. I am eager to share the good news of poetry with readers and future-readers across this marvelously diverse country.”

According to the Library of Congress, the first Consultant in Poetry, Joseph Auslander, was appointed in 1937 without a definite term. After Archibald MacLeish became Librarian of Congress in 1939, he decided the consultantship should be filled on a rotating basis. Throughout the 1940s, each consultant served for only one year. Beginning with Conrad Aiken in 1950, consultants have frequently served a second term if circumstances permitted. The history of this unique literary post up to 1986 is chronicled by author William McGuire in the book Poetry’s Catbird Seat: The Consultantship in Poetry in the English Language at the Library of Congress, 1937-1987 (Washington: Library of Congress, 1988).

For more information about Ms. Smith and the poet laureate post, click here.