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Saturday Is State Championship for Poetry Out Loud

Let’s get ready to RUUUUMBLE!

The Poetry Out Loud State Competition happens Saturday, March 5, at the Greensboro Central Public Library in Greensboro. High School students representing twenty-eight counties across North Carolina will compete for $200 and an all-expenses-paid trip with an adult chaperone to Washington, DC, to compete for the national championship.

The state winner’s school receives a $500 stipend for the purchase of poetry books. The first runner-up in each state receives $100, with $200 for his or her school library.

North Carolina’s State Competition, now in its eleventh year, features recitations by students from public and private schools, including schools as far away as Jackson County in the mountains to Dare and New Hanover counties on the North Carolina coast.

The National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation have partnered with U.S. state arts agencies to support Poetry Out Loud, a contest that encourages the nation’s youth to learn about great poetry through memorization and recitation. This program helps students master public speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn about their literary heritage.

After successful pilot programs in Washington, DC, and Chicago, Poetry Out Loud was launched in high schools nationwide in the spring of 2006 and has grown to involve millions of students across the country.

In 2015, Casey Goggin of Pinecrest High School in Moore County represented North Carolina and was the 2015 third place winner at the National Finals. Watch his recitation of “The Applicant” by Sylvia Plath, above.

To watch some pretty amazing kids read some even more amazing poetry, click here.

New State Capitol Statue Should Recognize Arts

After a twenty-five year moratorium on new statuary at the North Carolina State Capitol, a state-wide dialogue has begun for a new statue honoring African Americans in the Old North State.

“I can’t think of a more appropriate way to recognize the contributions of African Americans to North Carolina’s history than a monument at the State Capitol,” said (North Carolina) Governor (Pat) McCrory. “I encourage North Carolinians to actively participate in dialogue about key considerations and thematic elements for this important monument.”

The public has been invited to attend one of four hearings during the month of March. Planners are seeking feedback on the precise location, materials, size and scale of a proposed monument, as well as what thematic elements should be incorporated.

Needless to say, plenty of African American writers have impacted North Carolina, including North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame inductees Maya Angelou, Gerald Barrax, John Hope Franklin, Jaki Shelton Green, George Moses Horton, Harriet Jacobs, Pauli Murray, and Samm-Art Williams. Why not let our literary voices be heard?

Plan to attend one of the following sessions and encourage planners to honor African American contributions to the arts with the newest installment (the first meeting was yesterday, in Greensboro):

  • March 8 at the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African American + Culture, 551 South Tryon Street in Charlotte
  • March 22 at the Braswell Memorial Library, 727 North Grace Street in Rocky Mount
  • March 29, at the Shaw Auditorium at Fayetteville State University, 1200 Murchison Road in Fayetteville

Or contact the Deputy Secretary of Natural and Cultural Resources Kevin Cherry at 919-807-7280 or mailing address 4610 MSC, Raleigh, NC 27699-4610.

Hendersonville Bookstore Needs New Logo

Same space, different name!

Since 2010, writers in Western North Carolina have grown to love the purveyor of books formerly known as The Fountainhead Bookstore—officially Novels and Novelties Bookstore as of the end of February.

According to the store’s website, the name change was necessary because “Fountainhead” was often misunderstood, presumably by fans of Ayn Rand, who no doubt came to Henderson County expecting shelves bursting with biographies of philosophers and Objectivist doctorate theses posing as pseudo-novels, published by anonymous, capitalist think-tanks hidden deep in the mountains. Such visitors were, of course, disappointed.

Instead, the bookshop is now Novels and Novelties, host of myriad literary events and ardent supporter of local and national writers, and they’re looking for a logo. One that “captures the essence of the friendly local bookstore” that’s always been, but that incorporates the new moniker.

They’re taking submissions through the end of March. E-mail

Novels and Novelties is located at 408 N. Main St. in Hendersonville. Website:

New Pauli Murray Biography

North Carolina author and activist Pauli Murray was inducted into the North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame in 1998. Author of the famous autobiography Proud Shoes, which tells the story of her upbringing in Durham, Pauli received a law degree at Howard University, a Masters in Law from the University of California at Berkeley, and her doctorate from Yale. Later, she became the first female African American Episcopal Priest.

The Firebrand and the First Lady, a new biography from Patricia Bell-Scott, tells the story of the friendship between Pauli Murray and Eleanor Roosevelt. One might not immediately pair a “poet, intellectual rebel” and co-founder of the National Organization for Women (Murray) with the first lady of the United States, later first chair of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, and chair of the President’s Commission on the Status of Women (Roosevelt). But:

It was a decades-long friendship—tender, moving, prodding, inspiring—sustained primarily through correspondence and characterized by brutal honesty, mutual admiration, and respect, revealing the generational and political differences each had to overcome in order to support each other’s growth as the transformative leaders for which they would be later known.

Drawing on letters, journals, published and unpublished documents, and interviews, Bell-Scott presents the first close-up portrait of this evolving friendship and how it was sustained over time, what each gave to the other, and how their friendship changed the cause of American social justice.

Patricia Bell-Scott is professor emerita of women’s studies and human development and family science at the University of Georgia. Her previous books include Life Notes: Personal Writings by Contemporary Black Women, which was a featured selection of The Quality Paperback Book Club and the Black Literary Guild; Flat-footed Truths: Telling Black Women’s Lives; Double Stitch: Black Women Write about Mothers and Daughters, which won the Letitia Woods Brown Memorial Book Prize, and All the Women Are White, All the Blacks Are Men, But Some of Us Are Brave: Black Women’s Studies, an award-winning textbook that was named to the Black Issues Books Review list of “Books that Made the Century Great.” To learn more, visit

The Firebrand and the First Lady is available from your local bookstore or

Authors: Read This Before You Visit a Book Club

By Alice Osborn, NCWN Board Member and Wake County Regional Rep

The Wonderland Book Club

The Wonderland Book Club

You’re an author who’s accepted an invitation to appear before the Wonderland Book Club (or another fine book club)—now what? Connecting with your readers through book clubs is a smart marketing strategy. Not only are you going to sell your books, you’re also strengthening reader loyalty while playing the long game in terms of attracting raving fans for your next book.

Being a book club’s guest is a valuable opportunity, and here are several questions to ask so you can put yourself and your book in front of more readers:

Ask who is in your audience. Are they strong readers, occasional readers, writers themselves, homemakers, wine drinkers, pet owners, music lovers, and/or HBO fans? Even after you talk to the organizer/facilitator, contact a fellow author who has previously visited that book club or connect with a regular member so you can get the inside scoop of that club’s anatomy.

Ask who your facilitator/moderator is. Once you have that person’s e-mail, send her your website URL, frequently asked questions about your book, your bio/intro, headshot, and awards/literary distinctions. Follow up with your contact a week out and then the day before to make sure everything’s a “go.” I also recommend having your contact on speed-dial and mapping out the book club address via MapQuest or Google Maps so you are one step ahead of your GPS. Try to arrive at least fifteen minutes ahead of your scheduled time.

Ask if it’s a public book club. Can you invite others who aren’t regulars to this book gathering—if so, that’s awesome! Wonderland is open to the public, so our authors can invite their friends. Now you can post your book club appearance on your website, blog, newsletter, e-mail list, and in social media.

Ask how much time is available for you. Figure out beforehand how much time you’ll spend reading from your book, talking about your “author’s journey from writing to publication” and answering questions about the book itself.

Ask for a small table. This table will be where you’ll sell your discussion book as well as other books in your collection. You should also bring plenty of business cards, bookmarks, and a newsletter sign-up sheet so you can get folks to opt-in your e-mail list/newsletter.

Ask if there’s an honorarium. But only ask if the facilitator hasn’t brought it up. You don’t want to sound cheap or ungrateful, but you are driving to the club and spending time away from your work and family. Facilitators should lay out the expectations for the guest author so that there’s no awkward vibe. For instance, in Wonderland Book Club, we don’t have an honorarium, but we treat the authors to a nice Italian lunch, and I state that clearly from the get-go. On top of an honorarium, authors should be allowed to sell their books.

While at the book club meeting, take photos with the club so you can post these pics on social media and your website to gain more book-club invites. Remember, if it’s not posted on Facebook, then it didn’t really happen!

After the book club meeting, follow up on Facebook and Twitter by liking and commenting any posts the organizer has sent out. Also follow up with the organizer thanking her for the opportunity—don’t forget to follow up with those who have signed up for your newsletter, too.

Sharing your book with loyal readers is one of the great joys of being an author! Come prepared and well-rested to the meeting, but most of all, have fun and enjoy the interaction and discussion. This could be one of the best gatherings you’ve attended all year!

Alice Osborn

ALICE OSBORN, MA, is the author of four books of poetry: Heroes without Capes (Main Street Rag, 2015), After the Steaming Stops (Main Street Rag, 2012), Unfinished Projects (Main Street Rag, 2010) and Right Lane Ends (Catawba, 2006); she is also a freelance writer and teaching artist.

She facilitates the Wonderland Book Club, the regular Wake County regional meeting for the North Carolina Writers’ Network. Wonderland meets on the last Friday of the month, 10:00 am – 12:00 pm, at the Center for Excellence in Raleigh. There’s always a guest author. Usually the first hour is taken up with the book discussion, the author reads a few passages, and then in the last hour the floor is opened for the story behind the book. How was this book published and marketed? How long did the author take to write the book? Did the plot or characters come first? And the questions continue when book club members take the author to lunch.

Sound fun? Contact Alice at or visit the Meet Up page for the Wonderland Book Club.

The Launch of Charlotte Lit

Charlotte LitThis weekend, celebrate the launch of the newest member of Charlotte’s arts community, Charlotte Lit:

Our mission is to promote a deeper understanding of self, community, and world by inspiring and educating readers, developing and supporting writers, and promoting creative, arts-focused conversations that strengthen and transform our community.

On Friday, February 19, at 7:00 pm, Charlotte Lit hosts a launch party that includes an interactive poetry exploration, a conversation with poet Linda Pastan, and a reading by the author. The event is free, but tickets are required.

Charlotte Lit will host Wednesday Write-Ins on the first and third Wednesdays, where writers are invited to gather at Charlotte Lit’s comfy Plaza-Midwood location for quiet writing time (two hours), followed by a group writing chat (thirty minutes).

They will also host a Third Friday Reading Series that will feature two readers plus an Open Mic. This event is hosted by M. Scott Douglass of Main Street Rag and Jonathan K. Rice of Iodine Poetry Journal. Additional upcoming events include workshops, salons, and book conversations.

For more information on Charlotte Lit, including how to apply to lead workshops, visit

They can also be found on Facebook and Twitter.

Looking Forward to Bookmarks Summer Reading Program

The annual Bookmarks Festival of Books and Authors, held on the second Saturday of September, in downtown Winston-Salem, is always one of our favorite events of the year.

In 2015, Bookmarks established a Summer Reading Program aimed at connecting young readers with festival authors:

Bookmarks Summer Reading Program, now in its second year, helps students, parents, and teachers prepare for the annual Bookmarks Festival of Books and Authors, which, this year, is being held September 8 – 10. K-12 students across North Carolina are invited to participate in the Summer Reading Program with written, visual, and video responses to books on Bookmarks Summer Reading list, including authors featured at the Festival and NC standard reading lists. Participants will have the chance to earn books, cash prizes, and more.

Middle and High School students who complete the responses will be entered to win a cash prize in
three categories—written response, illustrated response, video response. Middle and High School student entries will be judged together.

Students K-3 who read at least ten books and complete the response project will receive a completion prize of a voucher for a free book (of participants’ choice) to be redeemed at the Bookmarks Festival of Books and Authors. Students grades 4-12 who read the required number of books and complete the response project also will receive a completion prize of a voucher for a free book (of participants’ choice).

And just this month, Bookmarks announced a new partnership with Blue Door Group of Coldwell Banker Triad, Realtors. Blue Door Group will donate a percentage of all 2016 home commissions to support Bookmarks 2016 Summer Reading Program.

The Summer Reading Program Kick-off Party will be held on Thursday, May 12 from 5:30–7:30 pm at the William G. White Family YMCA at 775 West End Blvd., in Winston-Salem. Kids of all ages, parents, and teachers are invited to this free event to learn more about the 2016 Bookmarks Summer Reading Program presented by Blue Door Group! Enjoy pizza, games, prizes, and a short presentation by 2016 Festival Author Bonnie J. Doerr. Please reserve your space: / 336-747-1471.

Next on Bookwatch: NC Literary Hall of Fame Inductee Margaret Maron

Margaret Maron © Robert Witchger

Margaret Maron © Robert Witchger

Don’t miss 2016 North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame inductee Margaret Maron on UNC-TV’s Bookwatch with D.G. Martin on Sunday at noon.

This special episode was filmed back in October, at Bouchercon in Raleigh, when Margaret was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award. Now Margaret has released the last installment of her twenty-book Deborah Knott series, Long Upon the Land.

The new novel is set southeast of Raleigh somewhere near the Johnston County farm where Maron grew up. Like the other books in the series, her new book has multiple suspects. This time several men in Judge Knott’s family are suspects. Woven into the current mystery, Maron finally answers a question her fans have long asked: how did Deborah’s refined mother from one of the area’s best families marry her father, a rough and ready bootlegger?

Margaret Maron is the author of thirty novels and two collections of short stories. Winner of several major American awards for mysteries (Edgar, Agatha, Anthony, Macavity), her works are on the reading lists of various courses in contemporary Southern literature and have been translated into sixteen languages. She has served as president of Sisters in Crime, the American Crime Writers League, and Mystery Writers of America.

A native Tar Heel—and a cousin of 2014 NC Literary Hall of Fame inductee Shelby Stephenson—she lives on her family’s farm a few miles southeast of Raleigh, the setting for Bootlegger’s Daughter, which is numbered among the 100 Favorite Mysteries of the Century as selected by the Independent Mystery Booksellers Association. In 2004, she received the Sir Walter Raleigh Award for best North Carolina novel of the year. In 2008, she was honored with the North Carolina Award for Literature, the state’s highest civilian honor. In 2013, she was named a Grand Master by Mystery Writers of America for lifetime achievement, and won the R. Hunt Parker Award for Significant Contributions to the Literature of North Carolina.

UNC-TV’s North Carolina Bookwatch is the state’s premier literary series, bringing the Tar Heel State’s best and brightest Southern writers to the small screen. In every illuminating interview, host D.G. Martin sheds light on authors’ lives, books and the state’s indelible imprint on their works.

D.G. Martin

D.G. Martin

D.G. Martin has hosted North Carolina Bookwatch since the series’ third season in 1999. A Yale Law School graduate and former Green Beret, Martin has been involved with public service and politics throughout his life, including stints as interim Vice Chancellor for Development and University Affairs at both UNC-Pembroke and North Carolina Central University, work as the Carolinas Director of the Trust for Public Land, and a hard-fought 1998 campaign for the Democratic nomination to the U.S. Senate against John Edwards.

Margaret Maron will be inducted into the NC Literary Hall of Fame in October.

Her interview on Bookwatch airs Sunday at noon and the following Thursday, February 18, at 5:00 pm.



Globalize Your Reading with Readux Books

Cape Canaveral by Grégoire Bouillier Only about 3 percent of all books published in the United States each year are books in translation. Which, if you don’t happen to be fluent in a language other than English, might make you wonder: how much great literature am I missing out on?

Berlin-based Readux Books works to fill a fascinating niche by translating books from European languages into English. Founded in 2013 by Amanda DeMarco, Readux publishes small-format English language books that are grouped each year into a series with a common theme.

For example, early in 2015, Readux published their fifth series, “Urban Voids: Berlin and Paris,” which presents “pieces that explore the continent’s two leading cities—by examining the places that are marginal, ignored, vacant, or destroyed.” Books in this series include Annett Gröschner’s City Spaces,  which explores aspects of Berlin from buildings wiped off of the map by city planners and bombs to longtime Berlin residents; and Francis Tabouret’s travels around the outskirts of Paris in Suburban Wonder.

Paperbacks are generously priced under $12.00, and many are available as e-books. Scores of prestigious outlets have said very nice things about Readux, including The London Review of Books, The Paris Review, and Flavorwire.

For more information about Readux Books, and for a sneak-peek at Series 6: “Weird Sex”, visit

Members Find Success in 2016 Rash Awards

The Broad River Review hosts the annual Rash Awards in the categories of fiction and poetry. Poetry entries are restricted to five poems, with no more than ten pages total per submission. Fiction entries must be double spaced and no more than 5,000 words. This year, North Carolina writer Aaron Gwyn judged fiction, while Florida poet David Kirby judged poetry.

In 2016, members of the North Carolina Writers’ Network were well-represented among the finalists, so much so that a long-form blog post is the only way to give credit where credit’s due!

In the 2016 Rash Award for Poetry:

  • Ashley Memory of Pittsboro received an honorable mention for “Why I Love Used Books”
  • Janet Joyner of Winston-Salem was a finalist for “Bird Brain”
  • NCWN board member and Wake County regional rep Alice Osborn, of Raleigh, was a finalist for “My Lost Son: Fastnet Race 1979”
  • Lisa Zerkle of Charlotte was a finalist for “In Flight”

In the 2016 Rash Award for Fiction:

  • Heather Adams received an honorable mention for “A Pop of Color”
  • NCWN Buncombe County regional rep Alli Marshall, of Asheville, was a finalist for “Night Pageant”
  • Gregg Cusick of Durham was a finalist for “Nothing About Us, Without Us, Is for Us”
  • Jennifer Weiss of Cary was a finalist for “The Kriah”
  • Margaret (Peg) Steiner of Asheville was a finalist for “They”

The Broad River Review accepts general submissions—and reads for the Rash Awards—between mid-August and mid-November each year.

The Broad River Review is a proud outlet for undergraduate students, faculty, staff, and local community members of Gardner-Webb University. However, since 2002, they have made a conscious effort to broaden the scope of their writers to include regional and national writers. In 2010, they added the Rash Award in Fiction and Poetry, open to all writers and judged by outside, accomplished fiction writers and poets.

The Broad River Review is published annually in late spring.