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Marty Silverthorne, RIP

Marty Silverthorne (left) with 2018 NC Literary Hall of Fame inductee Marsha Warren (center). © David Potorti, 2018

It was with great sadness that we learned the news of Marty Silverthorne’s passing on November 7. Marty was a poet, a champion of writers, and a longtime friend of the North Carolina Writers’ Network who was around for the Network’s inception in 1985.

Marty (1957-2019) was the author of seven poetry chapbooks, including Naming the Scars, winner of the 2017 Longleaf Press Chapbook Competition sponsored by Methodist University.

He received the Bunn-McClelland Chapbook Award in 1985; the Sam Ragan Award of Extraordinary Contributions to the Fine Arts of North Carolina in 1993; the Persephone Press Award in 1997; and won the NC Poetry Society Poet Laureate Award in 2015. He received numerous regional arts grants from the North Carolina Arts Council.

A graduate of St. Andrews Presbyterian College and East Carolina University, Marty’s poems appeared in the North Carolina Literary Review, Tar River Poetry, Pembroke Magazine, St. Andrews Review, and many more.

“These poems lift up the roots and reveal well-crafted tenderness and emphatic imagination that bears witness to the longings and challenges we all have confronting our angels, our ghosts, loves, and losses,” said NC Poet Laureate Jaki Shelton Green, about Marty’s chapbook Holy Ghosts of Whiskey. “[Silverthorne] makes us dream about the rapture of what it means to be eat up with music.”

Marty, a graduate of Williamson High School, was left paralyzed after a motorcycle accident in 1976. He was instrumental in securing a grant to provide ADA access to the White Cross School in Chapel Hill, when the NC Writers’ Network was housed there.

“Silverthorne’s direct and forceful words, and his unrelentingly honest images force us into a world that we would not know without his poems, a world both horrifying and blessed,” said Anthony S. Abbott, a poet and recipient of the NC Award for Literature, “horrifying because of the continuing illness the quadriplegia the narrator must face, and blessed because of the extraordinary caregivers whose portraits Silverthorne paints so vividly, caregivers and family member who become healers.”

Marty was a resident of Greenville, NC.