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Tony Abbott Receives North Carolina Award

Anthony S. Abbott

Former North Carolina Writers’ Network president and longtime Network supporter Anthony S. Abbott (Tony) is one of six recipients of the 2015 North Carolina Award.

Established by the General Assembly in 1961, the North Carolina Award is the highest civilian honor given by the state. Presented annually since 1964, the award recognizes significant contributions to the state and nation in the fields of fine art, literature, public service, and science.

Tony has been recognized in the Literature category.

He is an award-winning poet and novelist. He is the author of five books of poetry, including the Pulitzer-nominated The Girl in the Yellow Raincoat. If Words Could Save Us was the recipient of the 2012 Brockman-Campbell Award. He is also the author of two novels, the highly acclaimed Leaving Maggie Hope and its sequel, The Three Great Secret Things. An instructor in English at Bates College for three years beginning in 1961, he joined the English Department at Davidson College in 1964. He became Full Professor in 1979 and was named Charles A. Dana Professor of English in 1990. He served as the Chair of the Department from 1989 to 1996. His newest poetry collection is The Angel Dialogues, which former NC Poet Laureate and NC Literary Hall of Fame inductee Kathryn Stripling Byer called “One of the most emotionally wide-open collections of poetry that I’ve read in a long time.”

From the press release:

For over fifty years Tony Abbott, often reciting poems from memory, has held forth in two classrooms, as Professor of English at Davidson College and as Sunday School teacher at Davidson College Presbyterian Church, and has engaged students, communities and individuals in his passion for writing. In seven volumes of poetry and two novels, he has plumbed the issues that bring meaning to life. Abbott is well known for his irrepressible passion for the written word, his eye for the telling detail and his dedication to the community of writers in the Tar Heel State. A scholar of George Bernard Shaw and William Butler Yeats, Abbott underwent a transformation after the unexpected death of his young daughter. Poetry gave him an outlet to grieve and begin to heal which resulted in his best known poem and the title of his first book of verse, The Girl in the Yellow Raincoat, nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. Among the beneficiaries of his transformed life were Davidson College and, more especially, Davidson’s students. Abbott advocated for a creative writing focus for English majors, a first for the college, and inspired students and the public in captivating workshops. Abbott’s latest work, published in 2014, is The Angel Dialogues, a suite of poems centered upon a cynical poet and an iconoclastic angel that showcases his ability to take on very deep and emotional subjects, expressed in words that everyone can understand.

The award will be presented on Thursday, November 12, at the Sheraton Imperial Hotel and Convention Center in Durham. Tickets at $99 plus tax each.

The other recipients of the 2015 North Carolina Award include Dr. Anthony Atala of Winston-Salem for Science; Senator James T. Bryohill of Winston-Salem for Public Service; Dr. A. Everette James, Jr., of Chapel Hill for Fine Arts; Howard N. Lee of Chapel Hill for Public Service; and Patricia McBride of Charlotte for Fine Arts.

Nominations for the 2015 awards cycle closed in late April of this year. Anyone can submit nominations, which are considered by a five-member committee appointed by the governor. That committee makes recommendations to the governor, who makes the final decision.

Nominations for the 2016 cycle will open in February or March 2016.