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Pauli Murray Home Designated National Historic Landmark

Tomorrow, Saturday, April 1, The Pauli Murray Project will host elected officials and “family and community leaders” when the Pauli Murray Family Home in Durham is officially designated a National Historic Landmark by the National Park Service.

The “Homecoming” kicks off at 1:00 pm and includes a plaque presentation, exhibits on Pauli Murray’s life and legacy, arts activities, book sales, and neighborhood walking tours. Snacks and beverages will be available throughout the day; for the full schedule, click here.

Pauli Murray was a 1998 inductee of the North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame. The Pauli Murray Project provides this concise bio:

Pauli Murray was a champion for civil and human rights who grew up in Durham. Her insights and vision continue to resonate powerfully in our times. As a historian, attorney, poet, activist, teacher and Episcopal priest, she worked throughout her life to address injustice, to give voice to the unheard, to educate, and to promote reconciliation between races and economic classes. Her beautifully written memoir, Proud Shoes: The Story of an American Family, was published in 1956. The book chronicles her roots and paints a compelling portrait of Durham during its formative years.

According to a story in the Duke Chronicle, Pauli “helped found the National Organization for Women in 1966 and was the first African American woman to be ordained as an Episcopal priest.”

In July of 2012, the Episcopal Church voted to include Pauli Murray in its book Holy Men, Holy Women: Celebrating the Saints. This officially made Pauli a Saint of the Episcopal Church.

Earlier this year, Pauli’s childhood home received a $237,575 federal grant through the National Park Service African American Civil Rights Grant Program Historic Preservation Fund to “complete the renovation of the interior of the house, including the utilities. It will also allow the project to work on a landscaping plan.” The Historic House and Welcome Center should be open to the public by 2020.

Obtaining the federal grant took a massive effort, including a restoration of the foundation of the home and the collection of 2,700 signatures to prove to the National Park Service that designating the home National Historic Landmark was in the best interest of Durham, North Carolina, and the country as a whole.

For more about the Pauli Murray Project, and the designation, visit

Keep Politics Out of Nonprofits

From our friends at the North Carolina Center for Nonprofits:

Congress is seriously considering legislation to repeal or significantly weaken the longstanding law that requires 501(c)(3) nonprofits to be nonpartisan (sometimes called the “Johnson Amendment”). Politicizing 501(c)(3) organizations would damage the public’s trust in the work of nonprofits and would take money away from nonprofits’ mission-related work and put it into the hands of politicians.

Now is the time to take action to prevent this from happening!

Please take two minutes today (and no later than Friday, March 31) to sign your organization onto the Nonprofit Community Letter in Support of Nonpartisanship.

It is essential that as many nonprofits as possible sign on to this letter, since our members of Congress will take our concerns more seriously if they see a strong and united nonprofit sector. Thank you if your nonprofit is one of the 200+ organizations from North Carolina that has already signed on to the letter.

To learn more about why this proposal is such a threat to nonprofits, check out the Center’s recent blog post or the recent op-ed in The Hill (an influential publication on Capitol Hill) from the National Council of Nonprofits and the Council on Foundations.

Please spread the word to other nonprofits. Feel free to forward this action alert to other nonprofits, foundations, and religious institutions.

If It Ain’t Pembroke, Fix It

Judging from Pembroke Magazine’s recent “Where in the World?” blog postings, readers are enjoying the new issue #49—one of the largest volumes to date—pretty much everywhere: while flying kites, while enjoying a plate of jumbalaya, at Lum and Abner Jot ‘Em Down Store & Museum in Pine Ridge Arkansas, among many other locales and while engaged with many otherwise mundane chores (feeding goats!).

There’s something perfect about this series of photos, which seem to perfectly encapsulate where Pembroke Magazine is now after forty-eight years of publication. They’ve got their feet firmly planted in their North Carolina literary heritage, but they’ve got one eye on the new, soliciting photos from readers and posting them to their blog, even while continuing to expand in both influence and reach.

Pembroke’s latest issue features a Q&A with Belle Boggs (The Art of Waiting) plus creative nonfiction, fiction, and poetry on subjects from “women reclaiming their backwoods origins to bad behavior at Vacation Bible School to infertility and loss.” Past contributors include fiction writers Jacob M. Appel, George Choundas, and Katie Cortese; poets Morri Creech, Alan Michael Parker, and Anne Dyer Stuart; and creative nonfiction by Theo Greenblatt, Dionisia Morales, and C.W. Smith.

Since Jessica Pitchford became editor in 2013, Pembroke Magazine has expanded its annual offering—the magazine is physically thicker than in years past—and made an effort to become more global in its breadth. Still, the rag continues to honor North Carolina roots that reach back to its founding by Norman Macleod in 1969. Past editors include NC Literary Hall of Fame inductee and current NC poet laureate Shelby Stephenson, who served as editor from 1979 to his retirement in 2010.

You can donate or subscribe to Pembroke for $10, or order a back issue for $8, by downloading an order form here or clicking here to order online.

Pembroke accepts poetry (no more than 5 poems at a time, with a maximum of 10 pages total per submission); prose up to 7,500 words; flash prose up to 1,000 words, and art. Query for interviews. To submit, click here.

Pembroke Magazine is published at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke. You can follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

WCU Hosts Gilbert-Chappell Distinguished Poet Series

From our friends at the North Carolina Poetry Society:

Pat Riviere-Seel

Western North Carolina poets participating in the Gilbert-Chappell Distinguished Poet Series (GCDPS) will be reading their work at the 15th Annual Spring Literary Festival at Western Carolina University in Cullowhee on April 3, 12:00–1:00 pm. Participating poets include Pat Riviere-Seel, the region’s Distinguished Poet for 2016-2017, and four student poets: Mary Coggins, Benjamin Cutler, Jade Shuler, and Cathy Sky.

The series, a free program of the North Carolina Poetry Society, pairs an established North Carolina poet with four student writers who wish to develop their work. From December through May, the students and the Distinguished Poet correspond or meet to discuss and work on about a dozen of each student’s poems. The series includes a GCDPS reading at Western Carolina’s annual Literary Festival in April and the opportunity to set up joint readings of the student poets and the Distinguished Poet at the students’ home libraries.

Pat Riviere-Seel is the author of two chapbooks: No Turning Back Now (2004) and The Serial Killer’s Daughter (2009). Her most recent poetry collection, Nothing Below but Air (2014), was a semifinalist for the Thomas Wolfe Memorial Literary Award. The Serial Killer’s Daughter won the Roanoke-Chowan Award and has been staged by several theatre groups. Riviere-Seel has taught in UNC Asheville’s Great Smokies Writing Program, has been poet-in-residence at the NC Zoo, and co-edited the anthology Kakalak 2016. She has also worked as a newspaper journalist, publicist, and lobbyist. She lives in Asheville.

The Gilbert-Chappell Distinguished Poet Series supports the mission of the North Carolina Poetry Society to foster the reading, writing, and enjoyment of poetry across the state. The GCDPS originated when the NCPS Board voted in 2003 to follow the advice of Fred Chappell, then North Carolina’s Poet Laureate, who advised the NCPS president about various approaches to take in furthering its mission. Prior Distinguished Poets from the western North Carolina region have included Mary Adams, Joseph Bathanti, and Brent Martin.

To apply to the GCDPS in western North Carolina, students need to fill out the application form found at the North Carolina Poetry Society’s website,, and e-mail it with a three-page sample of the student’s poetry to Dr. Catherine Carter at Western Carolina University (

Counties included in the western region are listed at The application requires the signature of a parent and of a teacher or public librarian for students under eighteen.

Poems and applications can be mailed to:

Dr. Catherine Carter
421 Coulter Building
Department of English
Western Carolina University
Cullowhee, NC 28723

Summer Writing Opportunities for Youth

The Great American Writers’ Camp

Looking for a way to get your kid(s) writing this summer? Here are a few writing camps for youths happening around the Tar Heel State:

The Great American Writers’ Camp
Ages: Grades 4-6
Dates: July 24-29
Location: Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem
Established in 2011, The Great American Writers’ Camp is back again with even more writing activities, strategies and projects. Young writers will hone their skills and styles as they learn to take ideas and develop them into coherent stories, poems, arguments, speeches and more. We are committed to helping our young writers enjoy camp AND gain new strategies for creating and communicating. Working in groups, individually, and one-on-one with an instructor, students will begin to see how their ideas and words have a place in the world around them.

Summer Writing Programs
Ages: Grades 6-12
Dates: June 19-23, July 17-21
Location: University of North Carolina at Asheville, Asheville
UNC-Asheville’s summer writing program returns this year with week-long sessions in June and July for rising 6th-8th graders (“All Things Writing”) and rising 9th-12th graders (“Write Now”). The programs offer each participating student experience in different aspects of writing under the tutelage of Asheville’s finest writing instructors. Students will also participate in workshops featuring guest speakers who will address special writing-related topics such as The College Application Essay, Writing for Newspapers, Brainstorming Ideas, Careers in Writing, and more.

Young and Teen Writers Camp
Ages: 9-19
Dates: July 10-21
Location: North Carolina State University, Raleigh
Poetry, prose, dramatic writing, graphic novels. ​The Young Writers Workshop offers genre specific small-group workshop environments for children interested in developing their creative writing skills. Our teachers are especially good at working with young writers–nurturing and guiding their enthusiasm and talent by building on skills and craft. Student-to-teacher ratio is low — no more than 12 students per class — so that participants can receive the benefit of the instructor’s expertise and individual attention. Our students are encouraged and invited to explore their own styles of writing in our workshops and beyond. During the two-week program, they read from their own writings, work in small groups and workshops, and receive one-on-one craft-based instruction in plot, character, action, dialogue, conflict, and more. YWW students are grouped by interests and age (older students together with older students, younger students with their age group, as well). Students will be enrolled in two classes. Classes are 60 minutes long with a 30 minute (bring-your-own) snack break in between. Young writers are supervised at all times.

Young Writers Academy
Ages: 9-14
Dates: July 10-13
Location: 9500 Community House Rd., Charlotte
Mystery Writing & Detective Science and Graphic Novels: Writing & Illustration. The mission of Young Writers’ Academy LLC is to provide engaging creative writing enrichment opportunities for students that will inspire them to write. We aim to improve their writing through proven teaching and learning methods. Our students have a blast creating original work.

Young Writers’ Camp

Young Writers Camp
Ages: Grades 6-11
Dates: June 1 – August 4 (three sessions)
Location: Duke University, Durham
While campers use the term “fun,” we prefer the term “engaging.” Camp engages its participants intellectually, emotionally, physically:
A casual observer dropping into one of our classes might see young people acting out the lives and situations of student-generated characters, rapping and performing poetry and song, walking down Ninth Street in Durham and “listening in on” and recording conversations to develop an ear for dialogue, participating in a round-table discussion of their classmates’ work, taste-testing desserts as a review of the fare at the Mad Hatter Bakeshop and Café. Field trips to local businesses, art museums, gardens, and dance festivals are a regular feature of our classes. While campers are given class time for quiet writing, they also draft, revise, and edit collaboratively.After an academic day of writing classes, many of our extended day and residential campers choose physical afternoon activities such as sports and drama.

Young Writers Workshop
Ages: Grades 9-12
Dates: July 11-15
Location: University of North Carolina at Wilmington, Wilmington
The Young Writers Workshop (YWW) is an annual five-day camp that brings together up to 45 high school students to study the craft of writing on the UNC Wilmington campus. The workshop is organized and operated by UNCW’s Department of Creative Writing, and camp participants have the opportunity to study with published, working writers-faculty members and graduate students in the department’s Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing Program. The Young Writers Workshop provides a place for aspiring writers to experiment, meet other writers, and follow their creative interests in a safe, nonjudgmental environment. YWW participants take part in daily creative writing exercises, craft lectures, writing workshops, and readings. The week offers a valuable and exciting experience for young writers interested in learning more about their craft. Although YWW students are asked to submit a work of creative writing in one genre (poetry, fiction, or creative nonfiction), they receive instruction in all genres. Participants spend approximately six hours every day in writing exercises, peer workshops, and craft presentations. Students also have time to explore the UNCW campus, visit the bookstore and library, and get to know other young writers.

NCWN-West Hosts “A Day for Writers”

On Saturday, May 6, NCWN-West will host “A Day for Writers” at the Jackson County Public Library, 310 Keener St., in Sylva.

Registration is now open.

After morning coffee and a welcome, attendees can choose among workshop offerings that include:

After a short break, the late-morning session offerings include:

During lunchtime there will be book signings and a door-prize drawing. The afternoon sessions offer workshops such as:

The day concludes with a Publishing and Marketing Panel followed by a Q & A with Tom Davis, founder and publisher of Old Mountain Press; Glenda Council Beal; Tara Lynne Groth; and Deanna Klingel.

For the full schedule, click here. To register, click here.

The cost to register goes up after March 31; no refunds will be given after April 15.

Members of NCWN (North Carolina Writers’ Network, a 501(c)3 non-profit entity), automatically become members of NCWN-West (North Carolina Writers’ Network-West), if they live in Clay, Cherokee, Graham, Macon, Swain, Jackson, Transylvania, Haywood, and Henderson Counties in North Carolina, and some bordering counties in Georgia, Tennessee and South Carolina. They enjoy both NCWN-West specific benefits and NCWN benefits.

For more about NCWN-West, visit their website, here.

Cave Wall and the Things We Cannot See

In Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave,” bound prisoners, unable to turn their heads, see only shadows cast on the wall of the cave in which they’re being held—shadows created by puppeteers carrying objects back and forth across the diffused light. The question is then raised: when the prisoners talk about what they see, what are they referring to? Not the objects themselves, but the shadows of these objects.

While this allegory has been studied exhaustively, the question of what these prioners talk about when they talk about their shadows is essential to understanding our humanity. For the prisoners, “the general terms of our language are not ‘names’ of the physical objects that we can see. They are actually names of things that we cannot see, things that we can only grasp with the mind.”

It’s this spirit of intellectual pursuit, the “things we can only grasp with the mind,” and spirit, that has been driving the Greensboro-based poetry journal Cave Wall now for ten years. Cave Wall publishes twice yearly.

Cave Wall reminds me of why I started writing poetry in the first place,” says former U.S. poet laureate Natasha Trethewey.

The most-recent Issue #14, Fall 2016, features poems by Nickole Brown, Julie Funderburk, Jessica Jacobs, Rachel Richardson, Charles Wyatt, and many more, which is quite an All-Star lineup of poets with North Carolina connections! Light drawings by Naoko Matsubara illustrate the issue.

Reading submissions “blind,” that is, without any identifying information on the poems themselves, is extremely important to Cave Wall’s editors, and a core tenet of who they are as a lit mag. As founding editor Rhett Iseman Trull said in a 2014 interview, reading blind submissions helps:

“make reading the poems less about ‘judging’ good or bad and more about just letting them wash over me and see what sticks to my heart. As much as I can, I try to make the submission reading process about the poems and the poems alone, not about who wrote them.”

Cave Wall is currently accepting submissions for its Broadside Contest (deadline: March 31). The winning poem will be published as a limited edition letterpress broadside, and the poet will receive $500, plus twenty copies. Everyone who submits receives a one-year subscription to Cave Wall. For more information, and to submit, click here.

Cave Wall also accepts general submissions from time to time; check back in early fall to see if they’ve opened up their general reading period.

Subscriptions to Cave Wall are $14 for one year or $24 for two years. Issues also are available at most independent bookstores around North Carolina.

Cave Wall is on Facebook and Twitter. Visit their website at

Arts and Humanities are Essential for We, the People

To all NCWN members, supporters, and friends—

Here we go again.

The president’s budget proposal for the federal government’s next fiscal year includes the elimination of both the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities, as well as the Corporation for National and Community Services (AmeriCorps) and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (PBS, NPR).

This seems to happen every couple of years: someone in elected office, either federal or state, proposes drastic cuts to, or entire elimination of, government funding to the arts and humanities. The notion appeals to fiscal hawks, some social conservatives, anti-elitists, and anyone with a libertarian streak.

In response, those of us who work in the arts and humanities write messages like this one, urging our audiences to contact their representatives and tell them how much the arts and humanities mean to you. We enlist facts and figures to build rational, practical arguments: funding for the arts and humanities are such a miniscule fraction of the federal budget that the elimination will reduce no one’s tax bill by even a penny; arts and humanities are a $730 billion industry in this country, representing 4.2 percent of the GDP and 4.8 million American jobs that can’t be outsourced; arts and humanities are economic drivers, especially in small towns and rural areas; the NEA has awarded grants in EVERY SINGLE CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT in these United States; the NEA has placed artists in “twelve military hospitals to help returning soldiers heal from traumatic brain injuries.”

I’m not going to do that this time. I’m tired of making these arguments, trotting out these statistics, every few years.

Instead I’m going to ask you to contact your representatives on behalf of the arts and humanities because we are Americans, by God, citizens of a great nation, and great nations support the arts and humanities.

Actually, no—good nations support the arts and humanities. Fair-to-middling nations support the arts and humanities.

Great nations know that this is how they are defined, and so they do all they can to involve their citizens in the creation and appreciation of art, and the study of the humanities. Great nations want their citizens to know and reflect on their history, to better understand the present and shape the future. They want their citizens to express themselves with the creativity and vitality of art, and they know that artistic vitality goes hand-in-hand with national and economic vitality. Only nations in decline neglect to nourish their citizens’ minds.

Great democracies know it is crucial for We, the People to invest in the arts and humanities, rather than leaving it entirely to the fickle forces of the market and major donors, relying on latter-day Medicis to patronize the artists and scholars who curry their favor.

Contrary to the popular Facebook meme, Winston Churchill never really responded, “Then what are we fighting for?” when someone proposed cutting arts funding during World War II, but he did say this:

“The arts are essential to any complete national life. The State owes it to itself to sustain and encourage them. . . . Ill fares the race which fails to salute the arts with the reverence and delight which are their due.”

I know, I know: If you are reading this, you likely will write, and read, whether the government funds the arts and humanities or not. Human beings can create art and tell stories in any circumstance, however dire, however deprived, and have done so time and time again.

We are Americans, though, citizens of a great nation, a great republic, with bounty enough to go around. We do not face such circumstances. We should not have to.

Contact your representatives here.

Ed Southern
Executive Director
North Carolina Writers’ Network

Massive Discount on Nonfiction Writers Conference

The seventh annual Nonfiction Writers Conference runs May 3-5, 2017. And if you’re worried about travel funds: don’t! The entire conference happens via teleseminar. Attend by phone or Skype!

The conference has a special offer for NCWN members. Save 33 percent off registration with this code:



Here are the details:

The seventh annual Nonfiction Writers Conference presents fifteen speakers over three days. Speakers for NFWC 2017 include:

  • NY Times bestselling author – Surprise Keynote (we’re keeping it a mystery, but trust us, you’ll love this session!)
  • Brooke Warner – “Self Publishing 101”
  • Kathryn Miller Goldman – “Intellectual Property and Other Legal Concerns for Writers”
  • Jeff Kleinman – “Land that Book Deal: A Literary Agent’s Perspective”
  • Stacy Ennis – “Finish that Book! Writing Routines, Goal-Setting and Planning Your Next Book”
  • Corey Perlman – “Creating Consumable Content for Social Media”
  • Michael Port – “Heroic Speaking: How to Give the Best Presentations of Your Life”
  • Liz Bedor – “Building Blocks of Content Strategy for Authors”
  • Stephanie Barko – “Book Publicity in the Digital Age”
  • Richard Rieman – “How to Produce Audio Books”
  • Stephanie Chandler – “The Profitable Influencer: Revenue Streams for Authors”
  • Suzannah Baum – “Public Speaking: How to Leave Your Audience Wanting More”
  • Dave Chesson – “Mastering Amazon Kindle Book Sales Strategies”
  • Phil Frost – “Advertising with Facebook and Google”
  • Sue B. Zimmerman – “Instagram for Authors”

Pull up a seat on your couch and join us as fifteen industry leaders cover how to publish, promote, and profit with nonfiction books!

Save 33 percent with this code: “PARTNER33” at

Main Street Rag Builds Tight Literary Community

“There is nothing like the smell and feel of paper pulp” claims Main Street Rag. They won’t get any objection from us. And it’s that love for the printed word, for books and magazines as objets d’art, that comes through in each issue of this Charlotte-based literary magazine.

Published uniterrupted since 1996, Main Street Rag is the literary magazine of the small press Main Street Rag, which publishes poety collections, fiction (under its Mint Hill imprint), and helps authors self-publish (as Pure Heart Press). The magazine features poetry, short fiction, photography, essays, interviews, reviews, and commentary.

The current, Winter 2017, issue features fiction by Paula Martina, poems by Sam Barbee, Kenneth Chamlee, and Jeanne Julian; and reviews of books by Peter Makuck (Mandatory Evacuation) and Ruth Moose (Wedding Bell Blues).

Recent contributors include poets David Manning, David Radavich, and Lisa Zerkle; fiction by J. T. Ledbetter, Peter Makuck, and Lauro Palomba; and interviews and reviews by Beth Browne, Susan Lefler, Richard Allen Taylor, and more. MSR publishes both emerging and established writers, and it’s not uncommon for them to publish the same author more than once, even in a different genre.

MSR accepts fiction submissions up to 6,000 words. Those interested in submitting creative nonfiction or essays should query first (social or political themes preferred). Poets should submit up to six pages of poetry, meaning either one long poem or as many as six one-page (or shorter) poems. For interview or review specs, and to submit, click here.

One-year subscriptions to the magazine are $24 (four issues!), which saves $8 off the cover price. Subscribe for two years and save a whopping $19 off the cover price! Subscribe here.

Back issues are also available here.

It’s ambitious, in this day and age, to publish a quarterly magazine. But Main Street Rag has been going strong for more than twenty years. Here’s to another twenty!