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Moore, Shapiro to Receive North Carolina Awards for Literature

Lenard D. Moore

Lenard D. Moore

Lenard D. Moore—poet, essayist, writer, and playwright, and Associate Professor of English at the University of Mount Olivehas been awarded the North Carolina Award for Literature.

Created by the General Assembly in 1961, the North Carolina Awards have been presented annually since 1964. The award recognizes significant contributions to the state and nation in the fields of fine arts, literature, public service. and science.

Alan Shapiro, a poet, novelist, and translator and the Kenan Professor of English at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, was also recognized in the Literature category.

From the press release:

“Lenard D. Moore believes in the magic and the music of words. The experiences of his eastern North Carolina roots spring forth in the poems, short stories and haiku that flow from him. Whether writing about jazz musicians, the smell of war or the music of elm trees, he concisely transports the reader to each specific time or place. His power with the economical use of words is best illustrated in the haiku, a Japanese form traditionally of three lines totaling seventeen syllables. He mastered the form so well that he became the first Southerner and the first African American to be president of the Haiku Society of America. He is winner of the Haiku Museum of Tokyo Award and executive chairman of the North Carolina Haiku Society. For all of his awards and recognitions, he considers teaching his most important work. Currently a professor at the University of Mount Olive, he organizes its literary festival and teaches and mentors young writers. He is founder of the Carolina African American Writers Collective and co-founder of the Washington Street Writers Group. He inspires and encourages all students to do their best work. His essays and reviews have appeared in more than 350 publications, poetry in over forty anthologies, and his work has been translated in several languages. His achievements as poet, mentor, and teacher earn him a place of recognition in the rich North Carolina literary pantheon.

Alan Shapiro

Alan Shapiro

“Alan Shapiro is among the nation’s most distinguished poets. He takes on difficult topics, including loss and grief, but he also celebrates the daily lives of real people. Born and raised in Boston, Shapiro is the author of twelve books of poetry (including Night of the Republic, a finalist for both the National Book Award and The Griffin Prize), two memoirs (The Last Happy Occasion, which was a finalist for the National Book Circle Critics Award in autobiography, and Vigil), a novel (Broadway Baby), a book of critical essays (In Praise of the Impure: Poetry and the Ethical Imagination) and two translations (The Oresteia by Aeschylus and The Trojan Women by Euripides, both published by Oxford University Press). Shapiro’s poems have appeared in more than forty journals and magazines, including The New Yorker. Twice Shapiro has received the highest prize for a North Carolina poet, the Roanoke-Chowan Award. Twice he received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts. Other awards have come from the Los Angeles Times, the Folger Shakespeare Library, Wellesley College, and the Poetry Society of America. Shapiro was elected in 2004 to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He has taught at Stanford University, Northwestern University, the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and Warren Wilson College.”

The award will be presented to six distinguished North Carolinians Thursday, November 13, at the Sheraton Imperial Hotel and Convention Center in Durham. Governor Pat McCrory will present the awards at the 7:30 pm banquet and ceremony, following a reception for the recipients at 6:30 pm.

The 2014 honorees include Dr. Betsy M. Bennett of Chapel Hill for Public Service; Robert A. Ingram of Durham for Public Service; Lenard D. Moore of Raleigh for Literature; Dr. Jagdish (Jay) Narayan of Raleigh for Science; Alan Shapiro of Chapel Hill for Literature and Ira David Wood III of Raleigh for Fine Arts. The awards are administered by the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources.

“It is an honor to pay tribute to these remarkable individuals who have made North Carolina better by their extraordinary involvement in this state,” said Susan Kluttz, Secretary of the N. C. Department of Cultural Resources. “Each has enriched the lives of our citizens and propelled North Carolina onto the national and world stages.”

Meet the Fall Conference Exhibitors

Bull City Press

Bull City Press

The North Carolina Writers’ Network 2014 Fall Conference runs November 21-23 at the Sheraton Charlotte Hotel in Charlotte. Registration is now open.

You may already know the weekend is packed with workshops, panels, and readings by distinguished faculty from North Carolina and beyond. But we’ll also have exhibitors on hand, representing some of the finest literary organizations in the Carolinas.

Our 2014 vendors include:

The exhibit hall opens at 5:00 pm on Friday, November 21, and will be open throughout the weekend. Please come say hello. And be sure to bring an extra bag to carry home all your great schwag!

Grant to Help Revitalize Cherokee Language

From our friends at the North Carolina Arts Council:

Frank Brannon

Frank Brannon

Frank Brannon, a book artist from Dillsboro, has been selected for the first Mary B. Regan Residency Grant for a project to revitalize the Cherokee language through his artistry as a letterpress printer.

Brannon’s one-year project is based on his work with a program he supports at Southwestern Community College in Swain County, near Cherokee, where students are learning the art of printmaking by printing materials using the Cherokee syllabary. The 85-character syllabary was developed in 1821 by Sequoyah—a silversmith, blacksmith, and artist—making it possible to read and write the spoken language of the Cherokee.

Working with translations from the Cherokee Studies Program at Western Carolina University, Brannon uses manual printing techniques to preserve the language and its original Cherokee syllables. In a series of public workshops, members of the surrounding communities will produce prints that will culminate in an edition of handmade books. The workshops will be held at the Southwestern Community College printing studio as well as Brannon’s own studio in Dillsboro.

“Like many languages around the world, the Cherokee spoken language is struggling to continue as there are fewer and fewer speakers,” Brannon said. “As a book artist I thought about how we might print in Cherokee in this way to support Cherokee language revitalization.” His M.F.A. thesis was Cherokee Phoenix: Advent of a Newspaper, which focused on the historical 19th-century newspaper, the Cherokee Phoenix, which was printed in both English and Cherokee.

The Mary B. Regan Residency is a one-year community artist grant named in honor of former N. C. Arts Council Executive Director Mary B. Regan’s 39 years of service to the arts and artists of North Carolina. The $15,000 grant, supported by donations, will allow Brannon to focus on revitalizing the Cherokee language in partnership with students and the wider community in Swain and Jackson counties.

“When I think of myself as a community artist, I think about the ability of a person to use art to support or transform a community, and combined with visual arts, I expect my artwork to be a catalyst for change using a visual approach,” he said.

Brannon focuses his work on three areas: hand papermaking, hand bookbinding, and letterpress printing. Working with book artist Steve Miller, Brannon produced the paper for a limited edition print of Voyage by former U.S. Poet Laureate, Billy Collins. He was commissioned to make 200 copies of Absalom, Absalom! celebrating William Faulkner’s birthday. The commission, for Square Books, featured letterpress printing on handmade cotton rag paper.

He has also explored expanding the concept of the book form to include installations featuring imagery and text on handmade paper filling a gallery space and is experimenting with outdoor installations where the paper will interact with the environment.

Brannon has an M.F.A. from the Book Arts Program at the University of Alabama. His work is in almost 50 library collections and he has been in four solo exhibitions and an exhibition that traveled to six venues in the Southeast.

He is a member of the Southern Highland Craft Guild, Southeastern College Art Conference, and a past board member of Hand Papermaking, Inc.

For more information about Frank Brannon visit www.speakeasypress.com. The blog will feature postings about the project.

For more information on the arts in North Carolina visit www.ncarts.org.

What Makes Charlotte a Unique Place to be a Writer?

Charlotte

Charlotte, the Queen City

The North Carolina Writers’ Network will hold our 2014 Fall Conference November 21-23 in Charlotte. Also known as “The Queen City,” Charlotte is a unique place to be a writer—but don’t take our word for it.

“The Cabarrus-Rowan chapter of NCWN is a small but mighty group. Whether you are an experienced or emerging author, you’ll leave every meeting with honest feedback, encouragement and advice!”
Joanna Chapman, author of Divine Secrets of the Ta-Ta Sisterhood: Pledging the Pink Sorority, winner of IBPA’s Ben Franklin Award—Best First Book/Nonfiction

“It’s the South for sure, but not the Old South of Harper Lee or William Faulkner, or even Tennessee Williams. It’s the New South bursting with a cosmopolitan energy infused by the swelling population of ‘Yankees’ from the East Coast, the Midwest, and far west. The bucolic remains, though to some natives, it is fast-fading. Perhaps you have to look just a little harder to find it.

“Writing in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg area is a thrill. I began my writing here. Why? Was it the place? Yes. Was it my time? Yes. And that combination has sustained me through the years and been bolstered by the support of the writing groups I have belonged to and the educational opportunities offered by Queens University (the home of one of the best MFA programs in the country), CPCC, and other venues. No matter what you write or want to write—fiction (the long and short of it), memoir, creative nonfiction, poetry, playwriting, and screenwriting—it can be found here.”
Mark Havlik, winner, 2014 Winston-Salem Writers Anthology Contest (Creative Nonfiction)

“Charlotte is a great town for the arts as exemplified by Blumenthal Performing Arts Center featuring, a few years back, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s production Flowers (and other performances), about the life and times of Janis Joplin, a production that inspired me to write a poem on Joplin. I also appreciate the art exhibits that the Harvey B. Gantt Center showcases—exhibits that one can easily draw from as source material for composing a poem.”
Grace Ocasio, author of The Speed of Our Lives

Charlotte

Charlotte by day

“I am grateful to the generous teachers and mentors that have encouraged me along my writing path and I have hugely benefited from small groups of writers who workshop together and a large active Charlotte Writers’ Club. Also the small press publishers that host readings, book launches and other events make a major contribution to the vitality of this writing community. Such universities and colleges as Davidson, Johnson C. Smith, UNCC, and Queens, with their creative writing courses, talented professors and MFA programs, have created a fine environment for writers, whether novice or experienced.”
Diana Pinckney, author of Green Daughters

 

“The Charlotte area is a crossroads: of commerce and culture, of arts and activism, of growth while staying grounded. Many a writer has come here on the way to somewhere else, only to realize one day that the years have flown by and now Charlotte is home. We’re proud beyond words of the literary legacy we share.”
Amy Rogers, author of Hungry for Home: Stories of Food from Across the Carolinas

“Charlotte is great city of contradictions. My friends who were born here see Charlotte as a charming Southern city with big city business. Many more friends hail from such diverse places as India and Indiana, Colombia and Columbus, OH, the Northeast US, and the Middle East. They see Charlotte as a cosmopolitan land of opportunity. Each claims Charlotte as their own. The diversity of people provides the opportunity to experience many different viewpoints and provides inspiration for all sorts of characters to populate our writing.”
Caryn Studham Sutorus, NCWN member

“Charlotte writers enjoy a tight community—one that shares knowledge and opportunity, celebrates successes, and turns out in force to support each other. It’s a welcoming, creative group for novice and seasoned authors alike.”
Lisa Zerkle, author of Heart of the Light

Sheraton Charlotte Hotel

Sheraton Charlotte Hotel

The 2014 North Carolina Writers’ Network Fall Conference will be held from November 21 to November 23 at the Sheraton Charlotte Hotel in Charlotte, North Carolina. The conference offers workshops and master classes in poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction, as well as lectures and panels on publishing and finding an agent. The faculty includes poets Anthony S. Abbott, Morri Creech, and Alan Michael Parker; fiction writers Wilton Barnhardt, Moira Crone, and Aaron Gwyn; and creative nonfiction writers Cynthia Lewis, Rebecca McClanahan, and Amy Rogers. Scholarships are available. Registration is now open.

Last Call for Nominations for North Carolina’s Poet Laureate

From the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources:

Fred Chappell, NC's fourth Poet Laureaute

Fred Chappell, NC’s fourth Poet Laureate, 1997-2002

Nominations for the North Carolina poet laureate, the ambassador of North Carolina literature, will close soon on October 14. Nominations can be made online at www.NCDCR.gov/PoetLaureate. Governor Pat McCrory will announce his selection in early December.

The post, created by the General Assembly in 1935, uses the office as a platform to promote North Carolina writers and the power of poetry and the written word. The 2014 poet laureate selection process is being led by N.C. Department of Cultural Resources Secretary Susan Kluttz.

“I am thrilled and encouraged by the quality and quantity of the nominations we’ve received so far,” says Kluttz. “The arts, and poetry in particular, are so important to the wonderful quality of life we enjoy here in North Carolina.”

While each N.C. poet laureate leaves his or her own personal imprint on the program, duties typically include public activities with schools, community groups and the press, and contact with writers and readers by mail, email and/or through a website.

The selection criteria for the poet laureate position include:

  • A North Carolina resident with deep connections to the cultural life of this state
  • Literary excellence of the writer’s work
  • Influence on other writers and appreciation of literature in its diversity throughout the state
  • Ability and willingness to conduct the public engagement duties of the office
  • Statewide, national or international reputation

Nominations for the position will be accepted online through October 14 at www.NCDCR.gov/PoetLaureate. Only electronic submissions will be accepted.

About the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources

The N.C. Department of Cultural Resources (NCDCR) is the state agency with a vision to be the leader in using the state’s cultural resources to build the social, cultural and economic future of North Carolina. Led by Secretary Susan W. Kluttz, NCDCR’s mission is to enrich lives and communities by creating opportunities to experience excellence in the arts, history and libraries in North Carolina that will spark creativity, stimulate learning, preserve the state’s history and promote the creative economy. NCDCR was the first state organization in the nation to include all agencies for arts and culture under one umbrella.

Through arts efforts led by the N.C. Arts Council, the N.C. Symphony and the N.C. Museum of Art, NCDCR offers the opportunity for enriching arts education for young and old alike and spurring the economic stimulus engine for our state’s communities. NCDCR’s Divisions of State Archives, Historical Resources, State Historic Sites and State History Museums preserve, document and interpret North Carolina’s rich cultural heritage to offer experiences of learning and reflection. NCDCR’s State Library of North Carolina is the principal library of state government and builds the capacity of all libraries in our state to develop and to offer access to educational resources through traditional and online collections including genealogy and resources for people who are blind and have physical disabilities.

NCDCR annually serves more than 19 million people through its 27 historic sites, seven history museums, two art museums, the nation’s first state-supported Symphony Orchestra, the State Library, the N.C. Arts Council and the State Archives. NCDCR champions our state’s creative industry that accounts for more than 300,000 jobs and generates nearly $18.5 billion in revenues. For more information, please call 919-807-7300 or visit www.ncdcr.gov.

Quail Ridge Books Celebrates 30 Years of Business

Quail Ridge Books & Music

Quail Ridge Books & Music

Nancy Olson founded Quail Ridge Books & Music in Raleigh in 1984. Dedicated to providing “carefully selected books, events, discussion groups and town hall meetings,” Quail Ridge has been awarded Publishers’ Weekly Bookseller of the Year, the Pannell Award for Excellence in Children’s Bookselling, and the Haslam Award for Excellence in Bookselling.

On Sunday, October 5, at 1:00 pm, owner Lisa Poole—who bought the store in 2013—will honor Ms. Olson with a tribute. Featured guests include Angela Davis-Gardner, Clyde Edgerton, Charles Frazier, North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame inductee Allan Gurganus, Randall Keenan, Bridgette Lacy, Margaret Maron, Jill McCorkle, Clay Stalnaker, Oren Teicher (Executive Director of the American Booksellers’ Association), and a proclamation from the City of Raleigh.

While you’re partying, you may want to take a peak in the bathroom. There, the walls are lined with autographed profiles of authors who have visited the store.

“If I could write books like Nancy sells them, I’d win the Nobel Prize,” says an inscribed bathroom photo from Edgerton.

Refreshments and live music from Bruce Emery start at 1:00 pm, with the official tribute happening at 2:00 pm.

Remember: Thursday Is Poetry Day

On Thursday, October 2, readers and writers across the UK will celebrate National Poetry Day, a public celebration of poetry with live events, classroom activities, and broadcasts, as well as  performances in “streets, squares, supermarkets, parks, train stations, bus-stops and post-boxes.” In 2013, for example, Prince Charles performed Dylan Thomas’ “Fern Hill.”

The theme for 2014 is “Remember”:

Whether it’s Thomas Hood or Philip Larkin’s ‘I Remember, I Remember'; the centenary of the First World War; or the national Poetry by Heart recitation competition; memory is an important part of poetry.

Cambridge University will launch the Poetry and Memory Project on National Poetry Day with hopes of logging the “national memory for poetry.” The research will shed light on how people remember: it might even help people who are losing their memories by explaining why the human brain hangs on to some things learned in childhood (“I wandered lonely as a cloud…”) when it can’t remember as far back as breakfast. This interdisciplinary project will investigate experiences of poetry learning, and examine the relationships between memorization, recitation, and understanding.

Poetry memorization and recitation were once inscribed in British education and woven into the fabric of cultural life, but have declined dramatically in recent years. Although there are signs of reviving interest in these practices and of their reinstatement on the curriculum, there is almost no research on their effects, or on how they might best be embedded within pedagogy. Findings will be relevant for pedagogical policy and practice, and contribute to wider discourses about cultural identity and locations of knowledge.

What poem(s) do you remember? On Thursday, October 2, use hashtag #thinkofapoem, and follow all the happenings live at #NPDlive.

For more information about National Poetry Day, track #nationalpoetryday or visit http://www.forwardartsfoundation.org/national-poetry-day/.

Hillsborough: Where Writers are Just “Members of the Community”

The study in Allan Gurganus’ Hillsborough home

The Wall Street Journal recently profiled Hillsborough, NC—population 6,087—focusing on how this small town has become a mecca of sorts for writers.

The article features favorite Tar Heel authors Michael Malone, Jill McCorkle, and North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame inductee Allan Gurganus, with photographs of Gurganus’ stunning farmhouse renovation that includes rooms filled with “antique busts, paintings and sculptures—many of life-size saints and religious figures.” For Gurganus, Hillsborough is a place “untouched by time.”

“Community is such that you start buying band candy from people and you hire kids to cut your grass and neighbors bring you pies. Before you know it you’re pulled into the life of the community, and it’s magical that way,” he said. “It’s a natural law I think, that you can’t be apart from the community.”

For the full article, click here.

Allan Gurganus will give the Keynote Address at the North Carolina Writers’ Network 2014 Fall Conference, November 21-23, in Charlotte. Registration is now open.

Dylan’s Great Poem

Young people around the world have a chance to celebrate National Poetry Day in a unique way: by helping to pen an epic 100-line bilingual poem inspired by the work of legendary Welsh poet Dylan Thomas.

On Thursday, October 2 (National Poetry Day), anyone aged seven to twenty-five from anywhere in the world can go to www.developingdylan100.co.uk and submit up to four lines of poetry of up to eight words each to be included in the poem. The final creation will be edited in English and Welsh and published online and performed on BBC Radio Wales.

Dylan Thomas was a Welsh poet who wrote exclusively in English. His public readings, particularly in America, won him great acclaim; his sonorous voice with a subtle Welsh lilt became almost as famous as his works. Many are familiar with his celebrated villanelle “Do not go gentle into that good night,” as well as “And death shall have no dominion” and “Fern Hill.”

“I’m looking forward to seeing what lines of poetry are submitted, and to how they respond to, distil or pick up from the style, themes and poetic devices of Dylan Thomas’ poetry.” says Owen Sheers, who will edit the poem in English. “I’m looking forward to seeing what lines of poetry are submitted, and to how they respond to, distil or pick up from the style, themes and poetic devices of Dylan Thomas’ poetry. The editing itself will be quite a challenge but will, I hope, create an intriguing and unique piece of contemporary writing as a fitting tribute to Thomas’ own inventiveness and love of language. The editing itself will be quite a challenge but will, I hope, create an intriguing and unique piece of contemporary writing as a fitting tribute to Thomas’ own inventiveness and love of language.”

The final poem will be published on Monday, October 6. For more information about Dylan’s Great Poem, click here.

Poetry’s Slow Digital Revolution

Kobo Glo and Mini

Kobo Glo and Mini

Many publishers have resisted releasing poetry collections as e-books, for a variety of reasons, mostly centered around the difficult task of faithfully reproducing a poet’s line breaks for devices that vary in physical size and that allow readers to shrink or enlarge the font. There’s also the “fetishistic” nature of many readers of poetry, who prefer to have a physical book in their hand. Some argue there’s not as much demand for poetry in e-book form—poetry, after all, makes up only a small percentage of total book sales.

But an article in the New York Times earlier this week discussed how technology is finally allowing poetry to be published electronically, preserving some of our greatest poets in the digital age.

Although it increases their cost, publishers have begun hiring coders and programmers to manually manipulate line breaks and other formatting issues so that poems are reproduced faithfully in e-book form. For example, Copper Canyon Press recently spent $150,000 to digitize their back-list. Most of that money went toward programmers.

“Many of my poems have lines that are very long, and it’s important to me that they be accurately reproduced on the page,” said poet John Ashbery, who recently agreed to have seventeen collections digitized. “The impact of a poem very often comes down to line breaks, which publishers of poetry often don’t seem to find as important as the people who write the poems.”

According to the article, in 2013, “publishers released about 2,050 poetry e-books, up from about 200 in 2007, the year the first Kindle came out, according to Bowker, which tracks releases. Last year, e-books accounted for roughly 20 percent of the nearly 10,000 poetry books published, compared with around 10 percent in 2012.”

Some poets, such as former US Poet Laureate Billy Collins, have begun adding disclaimers to their poetry e-books, warning that digital readers might “change the physical integrity of a poem.”

But publishers are hopeful, and continue working toward a solution.

“We wanted to feel confident that what the poets were doing visually came across in the e-readers before we made this transfer,” said Christopher Richards, an assistant editor at Farrar, Straus and Giroux. “The visual look of a poem is really important and can communicate a kind of meaning, and if it’s not preserved in the e-book, you really lose something.”