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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!

UNC Research Study on Self-Publishing

Author Erin Ryan, a former member of the Charlotte Writers’ Club and current graduate student in library science and archives/records management at UNC-Chapel Hill, is conducting research for her master’s paper. Her focus? How are self-published books preserved for posterity? What happens to our masterpieces in the long-term?

If you have self-published a book, please consider taking the following survey. It should only take about five minutes.

To access it, please click this link:

If the survey does not open automatically, copy and paste the URL into your browser.

The survey will close on March 30, 2017, at 11:59 pm.

(Note: By clicking on the link to the survey above, you are consenting to participate in this study. Please remember you may leave the survey at any time. Erin will not count responses from anyone under eighteen, or from anyone who has not self-published a book.

(At the end of the survey, there will be an option to participate in a short interview to discuss your responses to the survey questions in more detail. If you choose to volunteer, you will be taken to a new page that will allow you to enter an email address so that Erin may contact you. Not all participants who choose this option will be contacted. The e-mails will not be linked to the survey responses, which remain anonymous.

This project has been reviewed by the Institutional Review Board (IRB) at UNC-Chapel Hill. If you have questions or concerns about your rights as a research subject, you may contact the IRB at 919-966-3113 or by e-mail to

John Balaban Wins George Garrett Award

We’re a bit late passing along our congratulations, but we’re no less thrilled to announce that John Balaban has won the George Garrett Award for Outstanding Community Service in Literature from the Association of Writers and Writing Programs.

John is a professor of English and poet-in-residence at North Carolina State University.

The George Garrett Award for Outstanding Community Service in Literature recognizes those individuals who have made notable donations of care, time, labor, and money to support writers and their literary accomplishments, and is named for George Garrett (1929–2008), who made exceptional contributions to his fellow writers as a teacher, mentor, editor, friend, board member, and good spirit. The award includes a $2,000 honorarium, in addition to travel, accommodations, and registration to attend AWP’s annual conference, where the award is publicly announced and conferred.

The award was conferred on John at the 2017 AWP Conference in Washington, D.C., in February.

“This year’s Garrett Award recipient…has helped to rescue injured children from Vietnam,” said David Haynes, chair of the AWP Board of Trustees, during the awards gala. “He supported and encouraged a student through her travails with breast and kidney cancer. He helped another student leave communist Romania. He helped countless students find jobs and build careers. His letters of nomination for this award are seasoned with place names of four or five continents, because that’s how big his horizons are, and it’s those global horizons to which he introduced his students. He is loved and admired by his students for his deep knowledge of literature and for his great knowledge of the world and its peoples.”

John is the author of twelve books of poetry and prose, including four volumes that together have won The Academy of American Poets’ Lamont prize, a National Poetry Series Selection, and two nominations for the National Book Award. His Locusts at the Edge of Summer: New and Selected Poems won the 1998 William Carlos Williams Award from the Poetry Society of America. He was a 2003 Fellow of the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, and the 2001-2004 Phi Kappa Phi “National Artist.”

During the Vietnam War, on a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship in 1971-72, he traveled the countryside collecting on tape the oral poetry known as ca dao. His memoir, Remembering Heaven’s Face, was re-published by the University of Georgia Press after being out-of-print for many years. His translations of Vietnamese oral poetry were published in 2003 as Ca Dao Vietnam: A Bilingual Anthology of Vietnamese Folk Poetry (Copper Canyon Press). In 2000, Copper Canyon Press brought out his tri-glyphic Spring Essence: The Poetry of Ho Xuan Huong in which the old Nom script was printed for the first time. His most recent book of poetry is Path, Crooked Path (Copper Canyon, 2006).

In 1999, Balaban founded the Vietnamese Nôm Preservation Foundation, a 501c3 nonprofit, to preserve writing in the 1000-year heritage in the ancient Vietnamese script. He has been President of the Foundation since its inception. For further information, see

Past award recipients include Maria Mazziotti Gillan, E. Ethelbert Miller, and North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame inductee Doris Betts, among others. The prize was founded in 2005.

Letters of nomination are accepted each year between August 1 and September 15 and should be submitted via AWP’s Submittable portal. To nominate a candidate for the George Garrett Award, please consult AWP’s award guidelines.

Nearing 70, The Carolina Quarterly Ages Gracefully

Not a lot of literary magazines—or many endeavors, really—can trace their roots back to before the Civil War. But The Carolina Quarterly, published at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, can point to the year 1844 as the founding of North Carolina University Magazine which, through several iterations during America’s highs and lows, became The Carolina Quarterly in 1948.

Which also means The Carolina Quarterly has been publishing continuously for nearly seventy years!

The Carolina Quarterly is student-run journal staffed by both graduate and undergraduate editors, interns, and assistants. They publish three times each year, to coincide with UNC’s three academic quarters.

They publish poetry (no more than six poems at a time); prose (no longer than twenty-five pages, or about 7,500 words; and book reviews. In terms of prose, The Carolina Quarterly primarily publishes short stories, but they are looking to expand their creative nonfiction offerings with “personal essays, travel writing, memoirs,” etc. They accept submissions September through May.

The website offers select free content, including short stories and conversations with well-known authors. There, you can also subscribe ($30 a year for three issues), purchase back issues, donate, and read more about the history of The Carolina Quarterly.

The most recent issue (Fall, 2016, Volume 66.1) features fiction by Ingrid Keenan and Dennis McFadden; poetry by William Brewer and Alexis Orgera; and nonfiction by Abigail Johnson and Jacqueline Kolosov. Past contributors include luminaries such as Megan Mayhew Bergman, Aaron Gwyn, Valerie Sayers, G.C. Waldrep, Jerald Walker, and more. Pieces published in The Carolina Quarterly have appeared in New Stories from the South, Best of the South, Poetry Daily, O. Henry Prize Stories, The Pushcart Prizes, and Best American Short Stories.

Follow The Carolina Quarterly on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest. Their website is