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Music for the Prose

Words and music are as natural a pairing as cucumbers and gin. Which makes us wonder why more people aren’t doing what the producers behind Music for the Prose have stirred up: setting original musical scores to famous works of poetry or verse.

Composer and conductor Daniela Candillari and theatre and film actress Kelli Ruttle moved to New York City around the same time and met there, quickly becoming friends. Every ten days or so they release a new two-part episode.

In Part I, Kelli reads the week’s piece over Daniela’s music. Then in Part II, the producers discuss the inspiration for the work and offer a backstage pass to their podcast in a segment they’re calling “Behind the Mic.”

The hosts are warm and instantly likeable, and the episodes range from rhapsodic (Walt Whitman’s “Mannahatta”) to downright creepy (Aaron the Moor from Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus). There’s enough history in each episode to satisfy those listeners who want to learn something, and each segment is short enough for a commute or your elliptical workout at the gym.

So far, Music for the Prose has kept to the canon of English Literature, using written works that are in the public domain.

Episodes are available at iTunes or Soundcloud, and the producers can be reached at musicfortheprose@gmail.com.

Think You Can’t Possibly Read Another Student Essay?

A pen is merely a tool to be used for good…or evil.

Even for English teachers who love their jobs, sometimes it all gets to be too much. The bad grammar. The incoherent comparisons. The written diarrhea from students struggling, gamely, to reach the assignment’s word-limit.

Sometimes, teachers need a release.

Which is why Andrew Kocherga founded www.AwfulEssays.com, a website showcasing essays, term papers, theses, and reviews corrected “without any courtesy” in an effort to teach students to “not to write with a carefree attitude.”

There are Admission Essay samples, Capstone project samples, as well as examples of descriptive, narrative, and thematic essays. Technical reports? Check. Book and movie reviews? You bet.

One of our favorites is an informal essay on U.S. History graded, by the site, as an “Epic Fail.” A piece of writing so bad that the grader suspects the writer was “probably drunk.”

Read ’em and weep—or at least commiserate: www.AwfulEssays.com.

Asheville: It’s a Cool Place

The North Carolina Writers’ Network 2015 Fall Conference runs November 20-22 in Asheville.

Yeah, you know. Asheville. A little town in the mountains. Western North Carolina. Biltmore Estate. Most breweries per capita. Foilage….

Check out this video and dream a little. We’ll see you there.

It’s Arts In Education Week

North Carolina governor Pat McCrory has declared September 13-19 “Arts In Education Week,” the first NC governor to recognize “the abiding value of ensuring that every child in North Carolina has a complete education that includes arts training, arts integration, and arts exposure.”

Arts North Carolina is encouraging folks to forward the governor’s proclamation to county school officials (school board, superintendent, principals, lead faculty, parent support groups) and to tell everyone you know.

Here’s the proclamation in full:

WHEREAS, arts education, comprising a rich array of disciplines including dance, media arts, music, theatre, visual arts, and more, is a core academic subject and an essential element of a complete and well-rounded education for all students; and

WHEREAS, arts education enables students to develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills, imagination and creativity, discipline and collaboration, alternative ways to communicate and express feelings and ideas, and cross-cultural understanding, which supports academic success across the curriculum; and

WHEREAS, arts education contributes to increased attendance and graduation rates; elevates academic achievement, and prepares students for college, career, and citizenship readiness; and

WHEREAS, arts education contributes to personal growth outside of the classroom, including increasing a student’s likelihood to participate in civic life, volunteerism, altruism, and community engagement; and

WHEREAS, to succeed in today’s economy, students must masterfully develop traits that business leaders demand in a 21st century workforce, such as communicating through words, images, sounds, and movement; and

WHEREAS, the arts are an integral part of life in the United States and are an integral part of a complete education which contributes to the vibrancy and vitality of communities across North Carolina and our nation;

NOW, THEREFORE, I, PAT MCCRORY, Governor of the State of North Carolina, do hereby proclaim September 13-19, 2015, as “ARTS IN EDUCATION WEEK” in North Carolina, and commend its observance to all citizens.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand and affixed the Great Seal of the State of North Carolina at the Capitol in Raleigh this eleventh day of September in the year of our Lord two thousand and fifteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and fortieth.

***

Thanks to our friends at Arts North Carolina for passing along this great news.

Update: Membership Coordinator Position

Tell your friends, tell your family, tell people you kinda know who are detailed-oriented and like books: we’re still on the hunt for a new Membership Coordinator.

Details:

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 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 and 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
ed@ncwriters.org

or

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

Find Us Tomorrow at Bookmarks

The Bookmarks Festival of Books and Authors is tomorrow, Saturday, September 12, from 10:00 am – 4:30 pm in downtown Winston-Salem, in and around the Milton Rhodes Center for the Arts.

We’ll have a booth—so come say “hello”! But don’t miss out on appearances by these Network members:

  • Fall Conference faculty member Robert Beatty reading from his new YA novel, Serafina and the Black Cloak
  • North Carolina Hall of Fame inductee Fred Chappell talks with Ron Rash
  • Fall Conference faculty member John Lane with Pat Conroy and others for Story River Books
  • Linda Vigen Phillips as part of the “North Carolina Showcase”
  • Eric Wilson on the panel, “That’s Not My Genre”
  • J. Peder Zane on the panel, “Celebrating a Love of Books”

For the full schedule, and directions/parking, visit the website: http://bookmarksnc.org/events/festival.

See you there!

Those Crazy Poets Are at It Again

A little over a year after the controversy surrounding the nomination of North Carolina’s next Poet Laureate—and all the lively conversation that went along with that—the poetry world has a new storm brewing, this time centered on The Best American Poetry 2015 anthology.

Guest Editor Sherman Alexie chose a poem written by Michael Derrick Hudson, a white poet, who sometimes writes under the pseudonym Yi-Fen Chou.

“After a poem of mine has been rejected a multitude of times under my real name, I put Yi-Fen’s name on it and send it out again,” [Hudson] wrote. “As a strategy for ‘placing’ poems this has been quite successful … The poem in question … was rejected under my real name forty times before I sent it out as Yi-Fen Chou (I keep detailed records). As Yi-Fen the poem was rejected nine times before Prairie Schooner took it. If indeed this is one of the best American poems of 2015, it took quite a bit of effort to get it into print, but I’m nothing if not persistent.”

Alexie went to great lengths to be transparent about his process for judging the poems, and apologized for the “damn mess.” The stats are interesting—99 percent of the poets are professors; thirty poets appear who Alexie had never read before choosing them for the anthology.

This has all sparked a great many conversations, and strong emotions, on both sides of the issue. We’ve even been kicking it around here in the Network offices, and thought it was worth sharing with our readership, to see what you think.

So? What’s it all add up to?

The North Carolina Writers’ Network sponsors four contests each year, all of which are judged blindly. Could the Best American Poetry anthology have avoided this boondoggle if all its submissions were blind? What onus is on a final judge to make sure different voices are all heard equally? Does this mess prove that literature is an “insider’s game,” or does all of this prove nothing, since both an editor at Prairie Schooner and later Sherman Alexie chose the same poem, thereby proving its inherent worth? Are there ethical questions here?

Talk to us @WritingestState or in the comments below.

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 mamie@quailridgebooks.com.

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 ed@ncwriters.org 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

ed@ncwriters.org

or

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