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Scuppernong Celebrates Black Mountain College

This month, Greensboro’s Scuppernong Books will celebrate Black Mountain College in a ten-day festival, September 16-25.

Established in 1933 in Black Mountain, NC, the college’s founders believed that “the study and practice of art were indispensable aspects of a student’s general liberal arts education.”

Black Mountain College was fundamentally different from other colleges and universities of the time. It was owned and operated by the faculty and was committed to democratic governance and to the idea that the arts are central to the experience of learning. All members of the College community participated in its operation, including farm work, construction projects and kitchen duty. Located in the midst of the beautiful North Carolina mountains near Asheville, the secluded environment fostered a strong sense of individuality and creative intensity within the small College community.

Scuppernong Books will celebrate the history and legacy of this program by hosting the following events:

Wednesday, Sept.16, 7:00 pm:
COLLAPSS presents John Cage and Merce Cunningham. The COLLAPSS Collective will combine Cage’s music with dance inspired by Cunningham.

Thursday, Sept. 17, 7:00 pm:
“Why Black Mountain College Ought to Matter (But Doesn’t).” Writer and ECU professor Alex Albright will present an overview on the extraordinary influence of BMC.

Sunday Sept. 20, 3:00 pm: “On M. C. Richards and Pottery.” High Point University’s Charmaine Cadeau Ward will talk on M. C. Richards, author of Centering in Pottery, Poetry and the Person.

Monday, Sept. 21, 7:00 pm: Former NC Poet Laureate Joseph Bathanti on Fielding Dawson, author of The Black Mountain Book. Dawson and Bathanti were a longtime friends and co-workers.

Tuesday, Sept. 22, 7:00 pm: “The Poets of Black Mountain College.” Jeff Davis and David Landrey, former students of BMC poets Charles Olson and Robert Creeley, Peter Coyote, and Charmaine Cadeau Ward talk about the paradigm-shifting poetry of BMC.

Wednesday, Sept. 23, 7:00 pm: “Melville and the Postmodern.” Poet David Landrey talks about Herman Melville’s influence on the postmodern movement with a primary focus on BMC rector Charles Olson’s book Call Me Ishmael.

Thursday, Sept. 24, 7:00 pm: A Happening; BMC brought together music, poetry, pottery, painting, dance and joy. We’ll try to do the same in one evening of revelry.

September 25, 7:00 pm: Painter Maureen O’Neill on Josef and Anni Albers. The Albers were the first primary sources of intellectual rigor and artistic passion at BMC. O’Neill brings her own passion to their work

Scuppernong Books opened on December 21, 2013, and has been an essential part of the rebirth of downtown Greensboro ever since. They are a general interest/literary bookstore featuring fiction and poetry along with a remarkable children’s section and a broad range of general interest titles. Within the store is a cafe serving organic coffee and espresso, wine and beer, and fresh sandwiches and sides all made in house. Scuppernong Books also hosts hundreds of events a year and brings in writers from across the country.

For more information about the Black Mountain College Festival, click here.

Quail Ridge Books Offers Signed First Editions Club Membership

From friend-of-the-Network Bridgette Lacy and the booksellers at Quail Ridge Books, in Raleigh:

Quail Ridge Books & Music offers Signed First Editions Club gift subscriptions for adult literature, children’s picture books, and young adult literature. The subscriptions start in September.

The store’s award-winning booksellers have thoughtfully chosen these new, first-edition hardcovers for their exceptional, lasting literary quality. Each will be signed by the author, who may be someone well-known or a rising star.

The first selection for adult literature is Sweet Caress by award-winning British author William Boyd. He tells the complicated story of protagonist Amory Clay. Born in the early years of the century, she becomes our eyes on the events of the 20th century. Through photographs and Boyd’s vivid descriptions, we are captivated by Amory’s exceptional life.

The young adult literature pick is The Trouble in Me by Newbery Medal recipient Jack Gantos. The autobiographical novel focuses on a time in Jack’s life just a few years before the events that will land him in federal prison explored in his memoir, Hole in My Life.

The children’s picture book selection is Dewey Bob by author and illustrator Judy Schachner. She’s created another distinctive, iconic picture book character in Dewey Bob. A collector and adventurer, Dewey is looking for his place in the world. And along the way, he finds what he really needs is a friend.

The memberships start at three-months for $78 to $110 depending on the type of book and go as long as a year for up to $312 to $440. The price includes shipping. They are perfect for a gift for you or a family member or friend.

George Gibson, publishing director of Bloomsbury Publishing, says “Publishers are always looking for ways to connect authors and readers, and first editions clubs are a dynamic way to do so. It’s like a literary prize, or a ‘book-of-the-month’ award, chosen by booksellers with great taste and awareness of all the books being published at the time.”

Former Quail Ridge Books Owner Nancy Olson said of our first adult selection, “I love it, love it, love it.”

Quail Ridge Books has a national reputation for turning hard covers such as Charles Frazier’s Cold Mountain into bestsellers. The store sold 6,000 copies of his first novel, 1,200 of them at his first reading.

Since its founding in 1984, the bookstore has attracted local and national authors, including Michael Chabon, Amy Tan, and Walter Mosley, and celebrities including President Jimmy Carter, humorist David Sedaris; and radio host Garrison Keillor. The store also sponsors hundreds of events each year, including community discussion groups and town hall meetings.

Quail Ridge Books has received numerous awards. In 2001, the store was named Publishers Weekly Bookseller of the Year. That same year, the store also received the Pannell Award for Excellence in Children’s Bookselling and the Haslam Award for Excellence in Bookselling.

The Signed First Editions Club is just another service offered to the beloved patrons of Quail Ridge Books, which has a national reputation for their customer service and excellence in bookselling. Quail Ridge Books is the only bookstore to provide this coveted subscription membership in the state.

For more information, contact Mamie Potter at 919-828-1588 or by e-mail at

Job Opening: NCWN Membership Coordinator

NCWN Membership Coordinator Maggie Morgan has accepted a full-time teaching position at Vance-Granville Community College, and will be leaving the Network staff as soon as we find a replacement for her.

This means two things:

One, you should direct to Ed (at or 336-293-8844) any questions you normally would ask Maggie.

Two, the Network’s loss could be your gain, if you think you have what it takes to be part of our hard-working staff.

If you are dedicated, diligent, and detail-oriented, please read the Membership Coordinator job description, and send us your application. An existing familiarity with the Network would be a big plus for any applicant.

We wish Maggie all the best in her new job, thank her for all she’s done as Membership Coordinator (and for offering to stay on and help out while we look for a new M.C.), and look forward to seeing her as a happy and carefree registrant at upcoming conferences.

Interested in this job opening? Know anyone who might be? Here’s the posting:

The North Carolina Writers’ Network is seeking a part-time Membership Coordinator to help with all aspects of its operations. This person will work 10–15 hours a week through most of the year, and possibly up to 20 hours during the weeks prior to our Spring Conference (April), Squire Summer Writing Residency (July), and Fall Conference (November). The Membership Coordinator will report directly to the Executive Director, and will be paid a wage of $11/hour.

The NCWN Membership Coordinator will be the Network’s “front line” for routine member service. The Membership Coordinator will work from a home office, which must have an independent phone line for Network calls, a high-speed Internet connection, and space for Network files, promotional materials, etc. Candidates must be self-motivated, detail-oriented, and comfortable working alone. They must possess excellent written and oral communication skills, as well as experience with customer/member service. They must be computer-literate, proficient with MS Office programs (Word, Excel, Outlook, etc.), and possess a basic familiarity with e-mail communication, html, and data entry. Experience with blogging software and/or content management systems is a plus.

The primary duties of the Membership Coordinator will include, but not be limited to, the following:

  • Enter new-member information into database
  • Send membership packets to new members
  • Send thank-you letters to donors
  • Update expiration dates and check database entries for renewing members
  • Check member database for missing or outdated information
  • Be responsible for accuracy of all entries in member database
  • Respond to e-mails, or forward to correct recipient
  • Follow-up on members’ questions or complaints regarding routine member service
  • Assist Network staff before and during conferences & other events
  • Other appropriate duties, as required

The successful candidate will keep regular office hours during the week, preferably sometime between 9:00 am – 4:00 pm, Monday through Friday, to take calls and e-mails from members and others.

Applicants should send a cover letter and resume to:

Ed Southern
Executive Director
North Carolina Writers’ Network


P.O. Box 21591
Winston-Salem, NC 27120

On Being an Intern

Today we bid farewell to our summer intern, Austin Evans, who’s done yeoman’s work in his time with us. He’s waded through more database entry projects than was probably fair, proofread every newsletter article for the Fall, and even contributed a couple articles to the newsletter and to this blog, one on the Writing Challenge app and one on the literacy group Durham Mighty Pen.

If we’d really had our act together, we would have asked him to write a few reflections about his time with us, and then posted them here. But, well, we just got back from the Squire Summer Writing Residency and frankly, we just didn’t think that far ahead.

Instead, we’ll link to a recent blog post over at the Minneapolis-based Milkweed Editions, where their pride of interns talked about the projects they’re working on and the value of making an immediate impact on the organization—just as Austin has.

The entire post is worth a read, but here’s one quote:

“I’ve come to know that the fastest way to learn how the field of publishing works is to be thrown at a desk with a task, and force myself to figure out how to complete it—asking questions and getting out of my comfort zone are simple, essential skills that I’ve honed in this office. When I’m in a welcoming environment that encourages learning, tasks go from daunting to motivating—I constantly leave here feeling accomplished, and that the day went too fast!”—Rachel Johnson

That, to us, should be the intern’s creed. We should strive to provide that for our interns, and every intern should hope for an similar experience, where his or her hands are getting dirty in every aspect of the business, where they’re given responsibility, and where they’re relied on for much, much more than just fetching coffee.

Thanks for all your hard work, Austin. Keep in touch, and happy trails.

Interested in being an intern with NCWN, or know someone who might be? E-mail communications director Charles Fiore.

Trade Show vs. Conference

This question’s been coming up, so we thought we’d take a moment to discuss what happens at a trade show vs. a typical conference (or festival), because there is a difference in terms of who can attend, etc.

Merriam-Webster defines “trade show” as “a large gathering in which different companies in a particular field or industry show their products to possible customers.”

So, for example, at the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance 40th Anniversary Discovery Show, September 18-20 in Raleigh, publishers will be staffing vendor tables hoping to showcase their books to nearly 300 bookstores. There are, of course, other events happening that weekend, including author talks and booksignings, but it’s an industry event and not open to the public.*

A “conference,” on the other hand, is a “formal meeting in which many people gather in order to talk about ideas or problems related to a particular topic (such as medicine or business) usually for several days,” again according to Merriam-Webster.

So at Bouchercon 2015, October 8-11 in Raleigh, more than 1,000 authors, fans, publishers, reviewers, booksellers, editors, and every other part of the community will get together for a fantastic four-day event—the world’s finest annual crime fiction festival. This conference is open to the public, if you register, and the North Carolina Writers’ Network will be there. We hope you come see us.

And we hope this helps answer some of y’all’s questions.

Want to know more? E-mail us or holler at us on Twitter….

*Writers who register for “Indiependents Day” will be treated to a tour of the trade-show floor, something not offered to the public.

Registration Closed for SIBA Trade Show Display

Well, that didn’t take long.

If you’ve already registered to have your book(s) displayed on the North Carolina Writers’ Network member table at the 2015 SIBA 40th Anniversary Discovery Trade Show, thank you. Registration is now closed: no more online registrations will be accepted, and snail-mail registrations postmarked after July 21 will be returned.

We’re overwhelmed by the response. And we’re sorry we can’t accommodate every worthy book.

We have limited space, and so we accepted the amount of books that we can successfully feature—fairly and prominently—to the nearly 600 booksellers who will be on-hand.

For more about this offer, and the SIBA 40th Anniversary Discovery Show, click here.

Thanks, all.

“Watchman” Proves Books Still Matter

Yesterday marked the release of Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman, her first novel since the 1960 debut of the much-celebrated To Kill a Mockingbird.

Without spoiling anything for anyone who hasn’t been following the build-up on some form of social media, there’s been a flurry of excitement—and controversy—over the book’s release. But from coast to coast, our biggest takeaway is this: books still matter. Clearly.

In Los Angeles during a marathon, day-long event, celebrities took turns reading Watchman, including DJ Cynthia Fox and author Cynthia Bond. Three-thousand miles away, in New York City, actress Mary Badham, who played Scout in the 1962 film of Mockingbird, read selections from both books at the 92nd Street Y. In Monroeville, Alabama, Lee’s hometown, Ol’ Curiosities and Book Shoppe began selling the new book at midnight and celebrated with an Atticus Finch impersonator, welcoming visitors from all over the world.

Closer to home, Quail Ridge Books & Music in Raleigh offered biscuits and jam from Yellow Dog Bread Company and encouraged patrons to write on a memorial wall. Chapel Hill Public Library screened the 1962 film. Later that night, Flyleaf Books hosted a panel moderated by Daniel Wallace, “Scout’s Honor: Celebrating Harper Lee and To Kill a Mockingbird.”

The panel, which included author AJ Mayhew as well as Christopher Brook, Legal Director of the ACLU of North Carolina, discussed issues of social justice and inequality inherent in Mockingbird, and how the novel continues to resonate today.

“It is so contemporary on every front,” said panelist Joe Flora, professor emeritus of UNC-Chapel Hill’s Department of English and Comparative Literature. “Black lives matter—we’ve heard it this summer, and this novel deals with that theme.”

Still, those on the panel agreed the publication of Watchman was more “publicity stunt” than “literary decision,” a view shared by many.

Including The Onion, who yesterday ran the following headline: “Harper Lee Announces Third Novel, My Excellent Caretaker Deserves My Entire Fortune.”

The 2015 Summer Okra Picks

The Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance has announced its 2015 Summer Okra Picks, a “bushel of books that represent the best in Southern lit, fresh off the vine.”

The pick of the bushel, of course, is Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman (Hub City Press), her first book since the much-celebrated 1960 release of the Pulitzer-Prize winning To Kill a Mockingbird.

Robert Beatty’s Serafina and the Black Cloak (Disney-Hyperion Press) also made the list. Set in Asheville, Serafina is a “spooky historical mystery-thriller about an unusual girl who lives secretly in the basement of the grand Biltmore Estate.”

Beatty will lead a workshop outlining techniques for writing a successful Middle Grade / Young Adult novel at the North Carolina Writers’ Network 2015 Fall Conference, November 20-22 in Asheville…at the DoubleTree  by Hilton Asheville-Biltmore, just down the street from the Biltmore Estate. Registration will open on or around September 1.

John F. Blair, Publisher, located in Winston-Salem, also landed a title on this summer’s list: The Drunken Spelunker’s Guide to Plato by Kathy Giuffre.

The 2015 Summer Okra Picks all have a “strong Southern focus and are published between July and September, 2015, and all of them have fans among Southern indie booksellers; people who are always looking out for the next great writer who should be on your plate and in your TBR stack.”

For the complete list, click here.

The Art to a Healthy Reading Habit

Our friend Patricia Oliver, the Community Engagement Specialist in the Catawba County Library System, recently wrote the following article for the library’s e-newsletter. We liked it so much, we wanted to share it with you.

How to Pack More Books into Your Life
The Art to a Healthy Reading Habit

image001NEWTON—So many books and so little time. How can anyone be well read with all of today’s distractions?

Steve Leveen’s The Little Guide to Your Well-Read Life (2005) offers several solutions. Leveen’s book, 144 pages or 3.75 hours on CD, is truly a “little guide,” but a helpful one for looking for ways to pack extra lit into their waking hours. The founder of Levenger, a company that sells reader tools such as bookmarks and pens, Leveen is all about making reading simple and more enjoyable.

One of his suggestions is to take control. Books, like flavors of ice cream, are a matter of taste. So what if it was on Oprah or won a major prize? This particular subject or author simply may not be your thing, and that’s OK. Leveen gives you permission to not like every book you pick up. So should you.

New York University professor Atwood H. Townsend wrote in his Good Reading: A Helpful Guide for Serious Readers, “Never force yourself to read a book that you do not enjoy. There are so many good books in the world that it is foolish to waste time on one that does not give you pleasure and profit.” He penned that advice some seventy years ago, when America was producing about 10,000 books a year. Today the number is more like 150,000. Sheer numbers alone beg us to be more discriminating.

Reading lists can be helpful. If you hear of a particular title or read a book review, note that book and author for the next time you visit the library. Likewise, keep a log of what you’ve read. There’s nothing more frustrating than not being able to recall book titles and authors you’ve enjoyed and want to share. The library has several online sources, as well as the staff, to help you find good books.

At the same time, you should not feel guilty about not having read every book you own. Maturity is realizing that you may never get to certain titles. Some readers set goals to read every Pulitzer Prize winner or every book on the freshman reading lists in North Carolina universities. Those are admirable goals, but if they’re too high, they may frustrate more than motivate.

Check out audio books. Seasoned readers know that travel and exercise time can be turned into “reading” hours with CD and MP3 players. In fact, some works are more enjoyable as read by the author or a professional actor. Your library has a wide selection of these books to choose from—both in the library, and accessible online from anywhere you want to read.

Contact your local branch for additional information on finding new books to read or to learn about library events. Be sure to register for the Summer Reading Program, if you have not already. Happy Reading!


The Catawba County Library System, headquartered in Newton, NC, serves the citizens of Catawba County with seven branches throughout the county and is a year-round, integral provider of early literacy and lifelong learning. In additional to traditional services, the system provides a full complement of computer and digital services, classes and support to bridge the digital divide, empower job seekers, and enhance community quality of life and economic health.

This article has been re-printed with permission. Thanks to Patricia Oliver and the Catawba County Library System!

Split This Rock’s Poetry Database

There are occasions when only a poem will do.

To that end, Split This Rock has launched The Quarry: A Social Justice Poetry Database:

The Quarry is a searchable collection of over 300 poems by a diverse array of contemporary socially engaged poets, published by Split This Rock since 2009. Like all of Split This Rock’s programs, The Quarry is designed to bring poetry fully to the center of public life.

Visitors can search by theme, format, geography, identity, and language. So whether you’re looking for a poem to read as part of a eulogy or hunting for a new favorite poet from your home state, The Quarry is a great place to start.

Using the filter to search only for poets from North Carolina turns up NCWN member Beth Copeland’s “Cerberus” and L. Lamar Wilson’s “A Patch of Blue in Tenleytown.”

How were poems selected for The Quarry?

Poems featured in The Quarry were originally published in Split This Rock’s Poem of the Week series or were winners of Split This Rock’s annual poetry contest or the Abortion Rights Poetry Contest, co-sponsored by the Abortion Care Network. Some of the poets have featured at Split This Rock’s biennial poetry festival and/or Sunday Kind of Love reading and open mic series. Others are members of the national Split This Rock community, Split This Rock teaching artists, members of the DC Youth Slam Team, and more.

And if you happen to be in Washington, DC, tonight, you can join Split This Rock for their database launch party at 7:00 pm at Busboys and Poets – Brookland, 625 Monroe St. NE. The evening will include performances and poetry readings and a DJ.

Sign up here to receive a Poem of the Week in your inbox each Friday.

Split This Rock cultivates, teaches, and celebrates poetry that bears witness to injustice and provokes social change. It calls poets to a greater role in public life and fosters a national network of socially engaged poets. Building the audience for poetry of provocation and witness from their home in the nation’s capital, they celebrate poetic diversity and the transformative power of the imagination. Visit them at