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NC Poet Receives Witter Bynner Fellowship

Allison Hedge Coke

Allison Hedge Coke

North Carolina native Allison Hedge Coke has received the 2016 Witter Bynner Fellowship. The $10,000 grant “promotes poetry in American culture and encourages grant proposals that expand awareness of the positive effects of poetry on society.” Coke was selected by U.S. Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera; the fellowship is sponsored by the Witter Bynner Foundation for Poetry.

Coke’s authored books include the poetry collection Dog Road Woman, which won the American Book Award, and Off-Season City Pipe. She also is the author of a memoir, Rock Ghost, Willow, Deer, and Blood Run, a verse-play. Hedge Coke has edited eight additional collections. She is a founding faculty member of the Vermont College of Fine Arts’ full-residency MFA in Writing and Publishing Program, where she teaches poetry, creative nonfiction, and publishing.

Her honors include an American Book Award, an Independent Publisher Book Award, and a Lifetime Achievement Award from Native Writers’ Circle of the Americas. She has won fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Lannan Foundation, and the MacDowell Colony for the Arts.

Her North Carolina ties run deep. She came of age cropping tobacco and working fields, waters, and working in factories. She attended Cary Elementary School and North Carolina State University, is a Weymouth Center for the Arts resident fellow, and will teach “Writing as Freedom and Docupoetics” at Cullowhee Mountain Arts this summer.

Juan Filipe Herrera

Juan Filipe Herrera

The Witter Bynner Fellowship supports the writing of poetry and requires the recipient to participate in reading and recording sessions at the Library of Congress. Coke will be awarded in a ceremony on Wednesday, March 9, at 4:00 pm, in the James Madison Building in Washington, DC.

Witter Bynner (1881-1968) was “a man of commanding stature, splendid good looks, and infectious energy, he presided over the cultural and convivial life in Santa Fe, New Mexico, for five decades.” His long career began during his undergraduate days at Harvard, where he was graduated summa cum laude in 1902. He was the Phi Beta Kappa poet in 1907 with Young Harvard, which became his first book. It was followed by a long list of works, extending until 1960, when Alfred Knopf, the publisher of all but a few of his copious bibliography, brought out his last, and in many ways, his most remarkable work titled New Poems, 1960.

Juan Felipe Herrera’s numerous poetry collections include 187 Reasons Mexicanos Can’t Cross the Border: Undocuments 1971-2007; Half of the World in Light: New and Selected Poems (2008); and Border-Crosser with a Lamborghini Dream (1999). In addition to publishing more than a dozen collections of poetry, Herrera has written short stories, young adult novels, and children’s literature. In 2015 he was named U.S. poet laureate.

For more information about the Witter Bynner Fellowship, click here.

Incarcerated Writers Seek “Pen Pal” Tutors

© Morgan Harrell

Our Mission Statement says “(t)he North Carolina Writers’ Network believes that writing is necessary both for self-expression and a healthy community, that well-written words can connect people across time and distance, and that the deeply satisfying experiences of writing and reading should be available to everyone.”

And we mean it.

Every year we receive handwritten letters from persons incarcerated in our state, asking us for help with their writing. One way or another, they have found an outlet in creative writing. They want to tell their stories, share their experiences, explain themselves to themselves and to others. They recognize that they need instruction, direction, and a helping hand.

Many of the services that once could have helped these writers no longer exist. In their absence, the Network would like to provide these incarcerated writers with “pen pal” writing tutors—experienced writers who would be willing and able to share advice, ideas, and encouragement through ongoing correspondence.

If you’re interested in helping a fellow writer in this way, please contact Ed Southern at and let him know. He will send you the name and address of one of the incarcerated writers who contact the Network. You will be able to initiate and conduct the correspondence on your own terms, and share as much or as little information as you’d like.

You need only provide writing tips and encouragement, the very things that all writers need, whatever their circumstances.

Broadway’s “Bright Star” Shines on Asheville

A couple things piqued my interest when I saw that a new musical, “Bright Star,” written by Steve Martin with music by Edie Brickell, was set to open on Broadway.

First, I’d always wondered what had “happened” to Edie Brickell, who seemed to have completely fallen off the radar after producing what were, in my opinion, two of the best albums of the late-eighties/early nineties: the double-platinum Shooting Rubberbands at the Stars (1988) and Ghost of a Dog (1990). She did not, I am relieved to discover, marry Paul Simon and call it quits: in fact, she’s been busy. Real busy.


“Bright Star” tells a sweeping tale of love and redemption set against the rich backdrop of the American South in the 1920s and ’40s. When successful literary editor Alice Murphy meets an ambitious young soldier just home from World War II, their connection inspires Alice to confront a shocking incident from her past. Together they discover a long-buried secret with the power to transform their lives.

“American South,” of course, being code for North Carolina, specifically Asheville. In fact, the leading female, Alice (played by Carmen Cusack in her Broadway debut), is a “highly successful editor of the Asheville Southern Journal.”

So, just to recap, there’s a brand-new Broadway musical with music by the insanely talented Edie Brickell, book by Steve Martin (who needs no introduction), set in Asheville, North Carolina, starring a female writer at the height of her powers? I can’t buy tickets fast enough.

For more information on “Bright Star,” click here.

Literary Walking Tour of Wilmington

The next time you’re in Wilmington—or if you’re lucky enough to live there—you might consider signing up for the “Literary History Walking Tour.

(Mostly) led by Gwenyfar Rohler, owner of Old Books on Front Street and columnist for Encore, the Literary History Walking Tour is a “90 minute walking tour of the literary history of downtown Wilmington.”

Discover over 400 years of Literary History on a two hour guided walking tour of our city’s breath taking historic district. Learn the connection between Arthur Miller and The Dixie Grill. Stand where Oscar Wilde did when he lectured here. Meet the first American Playwright, walk in the footsteps of three Presidents, and find out why we kept drowning the Public Printer. Guests may take unlimited photos during tour!

The tour is operated by, and begins at, Old Book on Front Street, a Wilmington “Institution” since 1982. Located at 249 N. Front St. in Wilmington’s Historic District, the bookstore offers an extensive collection of used books, including African American and Judaica, foreign languages, plays and scripts, and classics.

The next scheduled Literary History Walking Tour is Saturday, January 9, at 1:30 pm. Sign-up here!

Members Selected for 2016 Winter Okra Picks

North Carolina Writers’ Network members Taylor Brown and Lee Smith have books coming out this month, and they’ve been selected as 2016 Winter Okra Picks by the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance.

Taylor Brown’s debut novel Fallen Land (St. Martin’s Press) is set in “the final year of the Civil War, as a young couple on horseback flees a dangerous band of marauders who seek a bounty reward.” North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame inductee Robert Morgan, author of many books including Gap Creek, called Fallen Land a “thrilling fugue, in both senses: of flight, and intricate composition. It is also the story of a revenge quest, the horrors of Sherman’s March, a noble horse named Reiver, of sacrifice, endurance, and redemption. No one who reads Fallen Land will ever forget it. In this first novel, Taylor Brown proves himself a fresh, authentic, and eloquent new voice in American fiction.”

Despite being a New York Times bestseller for fiction, and also an inductee of the North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame, Lee Smith’s Dimestore (Algonquin Books) is her first work of nonfiction. In it, she “deploys the wit, wisdom, and graceful prose for which she is beloved to conjure her early days in the small coal town of Grundy, Virginia—and beyond.” Anyone who heard her Keynote Address at the NCWN 2015 Fall Conference knows they’re in for a treat; Kirkus Reviews called it a “warm, poignant memoir from a reliably smooth voice.”

2016 Winter Okra Picks have a strong Southern focus and are published between January and March, 2016, and all of them have fans among Southern indie booksellers; people who are always looking out for the next great writer who should be on your plate and in your To Be Read stack. So it is very likely the next time you visit your local Southern indie bookstore, someone will hand you one and say, “You’ve got to read this!” Read them before they hit the bestseller lists and impress your friends with your impeccable taste and literary savvy!

For a complete list of 2016 Winter Okra Picks, click here.

Fall Conference In the News

As the North Carolina Writers’ Network 2015 Fall Conference registration approaches record-breaking numbers, we’ve been all over the news. Here’s what you may have missed:

Paul Foster’s interview with poet Tina Barr on WNCW 88.7 FM

Carol Anders interview with poet Keith Flynn on WNPV 103.7 FM “Asheville ‘N the Arts”

D.G. Martin’s interview with Keynote Speaker Lee Smith on WCHL 97.9 FM “Who’s Talking with D.G. Martin”

Joanne O’Sullivan’s Fall Conference feature in Asheville’s The Citizen-Times

Dannye Romine Powell’s write-up of Fall Conference in The Charlotte Observer

Barbara Hootman’s feature on poet Tina Barr in Black Mountain News

Cindy Schaeffer’s Fall Conference shout-out in Raleigh’s The News & Observer

The Laurel of Asheville featured Heather Newton

Alli Marshall’s Fall Conference plug in Mountain Xpress*

Nicki Volle’s Fall Conference feature on the Master’s Review blog

R.T. Smith’s Fall Conference write-up on the Shenandoah Literary Journal website

A Fall Conference feature on the Everyday Arts blog courtesy of the North Carolina Arts Council

Katie Winkler wrote a feature on Jeremy B. Jones for 85-26 in the Henderson Times-News

And we received kind mentions in newsletters from Fall Conference sponsors Al Manning and Alice Osborn and Write from the Inside Out; Fall Conference exhibitor the North Carolina Poetry Society; the Winston-Salem Writers; and more.

Plus, we’ve been all over social media: special thanks to Crazyhorse Literary Journal, New Southerner, The Massachusetts Review, Fall Conference exhibitor Bull City Press, and Murray State University’s MFA in Creative Writing Program.

Pre-registration for the North Carolina Writers’ Network 2015 Fall Conference closes Friday, November 13. Don’t delay: register now.

*Keep an eye out for a feature on creative nonfiction writer Christine Hale in Friday’s Mountain xPress!

It’s University Press Week

November 8-14 is University Press Week, a nationwide celebration of the “extraordinary work of non-profit scholarly publishers and their many contributions to culture, the academy, and an informed society.”

Founded in 1978 by president Jimmy Carter, University Press Week is organized by the Association of American University Presses (AAUP), an “organization of non-profit publishers whose members strive to advance scholarship through their offerings.”

The Regulator Bookshop in Durham has converted their storefront into a “pop-up” store offering a fascinating collection of titles from Duke University Press, the University of North Carolina Press, and Columbia, Harvard, NYU, Princeton, University of California, University of South Carolina, and the University of Georgia presses.

AAUP is offering two online events through Google Hangouts: “Opening Access: The Reinvention of the Academic Book” on Tuesday, November 10, at 3:00 pm, and “It’s Not Scary: The Art of Getting Published with a Scholarly Press” on Friday, November 13, at noon.

This week also features a blog tour where a theme is selected for each weekday, and presses sign up to post on the theme of their choice. Each day, blog posts on the chosen theme go up in the morning, and each blog points readers on to the other posts on that topic.

For more information about University Press Week, click here.

Meet Our Fall Conference Exhibitors: Part III

Over the past two weeks we’ve introduced many of the exhibitors who’ll be at the North Carolina Writers’ Network 2015 Fall Conference, November 20-22, in Asheville.

Here’s the third and final installment, in alphabetical order—the last, but certainly not the least, of those who’ll make the exhibit hall a truly happening place to be over the course of the weekend.

Established in 1992, Old Mountain Press (OMP) has helped hundreds of writers self-publish their work. They assist first-time authors as well as seasoned writers with several books to their credit. They have had authors as young as sixteen and as old as eighty-five. Their editors can help ready material for self-publishing or for submission to an agent, publishing house, or magazine. They edit everything from short stories and position papers to novels and doctoral dissertations. They do light or heavy editing. Please note that Old Mountain Press is not a vanity press. They specialize in low cost, short run (200 minimum), high quality perfect-bound book production.

Orison [“or-ə-sən”] is an archaic word that means “prayer.” At Orison Books, they believe that the best spiritual art and literature call us to meditate and contemplate, rather than asking us to adopt any ideology or set of propositions. The kind of work they seek to publish has a transcendent aesthetic effect on the reader, and reading it can itself be a spiritual experience. Orison Books seeks to be broad, inclusive, and open to perspectives spanning the spectrum of spiritual and religious thought, ethnicity, gender identity, and sexual orientation. Orison Books will serve as a home for writers and readers of all backgrounds, religious or non-religious. In addition to publishing exceptional spiritually engaged poetry, fiction, and nonfiction books, they publish The Orison Anthology, an annual collection of the best spiritual writing in all genres published in periodicals during the preceding year.

Alice Osborn, MA, is the author of four books of poetry: Heroes Without Capes (2015), After the Steaming Stops (2012), and Unfinished Projects (2010), all published by Main Street Rag, and Right Lane Ends (Catawba, 2006). She is also a freelance writer and teaching artist. Write from the Inside Out believes in the holistic approach to writing and publishing, and will walk writers through all editing steps and will conduct rewrites when necessary on top of copy editing and proofreading. Services include manuscript editing services, strategic book publishing, coaching for book and memoir writing, fiction editing and writing, and speaking appearances. Alice also leads writing workshops throughout the year, throughout the state. Write from the Inside Out can help writers achieve success and confidence with editing, writing workshops, and mentoring to help writers achieve their writing goals. Visit the website to sign up for her e-newsletter or register for an upcoming workshop. Alice Osborn and Write from the Inside Out is the 2015 sponsor of Saturday night’s Happy Hour.

P53 Bar Logo smPress 53 was founded in October 2005 by Kevin Morgan Watson and quickly began earning a reputation as a quality publishing house of short fiction and poetry collections. Located in Winston-Salem, they publish up to five short fiction collections each year, including the winner of our Press 53 Award for Short Fiction. They publish up to to eight poetry collections each year, including one collection by the winner of our Press 53 Award for Poetry. In July 2010, Press 53 launched Prime Number Magazine, a free online quarterly publication of distinctive poetry and prose. Their authors include former NC poet laureates Joseph Bathanti and Kathryn Stripling Byer and current NC poet laureate Shelby Stephenson; poets Joseph Mills and Valerie Nieman; and fiction writers Quinn Dalton and Marjorie Hudson. Their first Press 53 Classics edition was The Land Breakers, by John Ehle, which was published by Harper & Row in 1964. They’ve just re-released Lion on the Hearth, the sixth book in Ehle’s seven-book Appalachian series.

Propspective PressProspective Press is an avid independent publisher, connecting readers to great stories by great authors. They produce books in the traditional way, a commitment to quality and a keen interest for compelling content. However, they also keep an eye to the future, watching for ways to make the reading experiences even more enjoyable and satisfying. From the Piedmont region of North Carolina, they bring a world of quality genre fiction and select nonfiction. Their nonfiction imprint connects readers with a nascent collection of enjoyable and informative books on select topics involving the body, mind, and spirit. Fiction includes High Fantasy and Urban Fantasy; Young Adult and Mythological; Science Fiction and Speculative Fiction; Paranormal and PNR; Women’s Fiction; and more. For a list of their authors, click here.

A.D. Reed is the founder of Pisgah Press, an independent publishing house serving Western North Carolina writers and book lovers everywhere. Great fiction, serious nonfiction, poetry, and a reference book for writers were among their first books in print. He’ll be selling the new book, Reed’s Homophones, the “handiest reference available on homophones or homonyms—words that sound alike but are spelled differently—as well as words that are often mistyped, misspelled, misused, misunderstood, or that otherwise faze (not phase) writers and confuse readers.” For a full list of authors published by Pisgah Press, click here.

Western Carolina University’s MA in Professional Writing Program is designed for students seeking advanced preparation for entering successful, professional writing careers in fields that regularly recruit new writers, editors, publishing assistants, or promotional talents. A total of thirty-three graduate English credit hours is required: twelve-hour core, nine-hour concentration, and twelve hours in either a thesis or non-thesis option. In addition to the coursework, all MA in English students must successfully pass written comprehensive examinations based on reading lists and content knowledge, which are specific to each concentration. For those writing a thesis, a final oral defense is required. WCU’s MA in Professional Writing Program is the sponsor of the Faculty Readings on Saturday night, which will include a reading by WCU faculty member Jeremy B. Jones.

Wisdom House Books is a publishing hybrid boutique, offering all the advantages of alternative publishing while still maintaining a standard of the highest quality production and design. They make publishing one’s manuscript easy and affordable. Their mission is to produce quality books that make a positive difference in the world. Whether a writer has an inspiring personal story, a spiritual message, a key to better health and well-being, or a new method for financial success, they will personally and professionally guide a book through the publishing process with care and integrity. They provide all the services of a major publisher, but the author retains 100 percent of the royalties and 100 percent of the selling profits. There are no “Publishing Packages” or “Levels” here. They simply offer a list of services to select based on what works best for an author’s goals and budget. For a list of Wisdom House Books authors, click here.

Pre-registration for the North Carolina Writers’ Network 2015 Fall Conference ends Friday, November 13. Register now!

Celebrating Eleanora E. Tate

Eleanora E. Tate is a children’s book author, folklorist, short-story writer, creative writing teacher, and former newspaper reporter. We’re also proud to say she’s a longtime member of the North Carolina Writers’ Network, and a former board member.

During the month of November, Wake County Public Libraries will be celebrating Eleanora’s work through a series of free programs around Raleigh. Happenings include a walking tour of downtown, a library presentation, and a movie screening.

For a complete schedule, click here.

Eleanora was named a 1999 Zora Neale Hurston Award winner (with Dr. John Hope Franklin) by the National Association of Black Storytellers, Inc., of which she is a former national president. She is also a recipient of its Circle of Elders Award.

Her book Celeste’s Harlem Renaissance, the 2007 AAUW North Carolina Book Award Winner in Juvenile Literature, was published in April 2007 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers. It was also a 2008 International Reading Association “Teachers’ Choice Award” winner. She is the author of several other award-winning books, including Thank You, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.! and Just an Overnight Guest (Dial, 1980, Just Us Books, 1997), which was made into an award-winning television film in 1983.

Her website is

Wake County Libraries seeks to promote the love of reading and to foster the pursuit of knowledge for the residents of Wake County. They offer services to children; opportunities for recreational reading; strive to be a center of lifelong learning and community center, and hope to bridge the technology gap. For more information visit

Books 50% Off through Bookworm & Silverfish

After nearly forty years of membership in the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association of America, Bookworm & Silverfish, which specializes in out-of-print books and appraisals, is offering 50% off a large portion of its online inventory.

You can search by author, title, keyword, or even category. There are thousands of rare and antique books on subjects such as North Carolina, the Civil War, classic literature, and cookery. Located in Rural Retreat, VA, Bookworm & Silverfish offers extensive resources on the Southeast.

Visit them online here.

Bookworm and Silverfish is run by Jim Presgraves. For a long time, sales were by private quotation, but in the early 1970s he began offering catalogs. Now nearly 750 catalogs identify his book judgment. Customers include national libraries in both hemispheres as well as many US State libraries and esteemed national collections such as the Smithsonian Institution and the Winterthur Museum. Mr. Presgraves and his staff have nearly forty years experience, and a 4,000-title reference collection to assist those who wish to purchase or to sell books.

Some titles that caught our eye were a six-issue collection of Scribner’s magazine featuring Ernest Hemingway’s Farewell to Arms in serial ($237.50); sheet music for “The Bavarian Girls Song” printed in 1830 ($17.50); and The New River Early Settlement by Patricia G. Johnson, a hard-to-find book relating the history of the world’s second-oldest river ($17.50).

If you’ve got a book-lover on your holiday list, why not buy them something they literally can’t find anywhere else?

Click here to browse their extensive inventory.