NC Literary Hall of Fame




Michael White was educated at the University of Missouri and the University of Utah, where he received his Ph.D. in English and Creative Writing in 1993. His poetry books are This Water, The Island, Palma Cathedral (winner of the Colorado Prize), Re-entry (winner of the Vassar Miller Prize), and the forthcoming Vermeer in Hell (winner of the Lexi Rudnitsky Editors Prize). He also has a memoir, Travels in Vermeer, forthcoming from Persea Books. He has published poetry and prose in The Paris Review, The New Republic, The Kenyon Review, The Best American Poetry, and dozens of other magazines and anthologies. White is currently chair of the Department of Creative Writing at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington.

Michael will lead a workshop at the North Carolina Writers' Network 2013 Fall Conference titled, "Companion Books: Poetry & Prose, Fiction & Nonfiction." In this workshop, we will consider the phenomenon of companion books, defined here as a pair of inextricably linked yet freestanding books. We’ll discuss pairings such as Twain’s Life on the Mississippi and Huckleberry Finn, Evan S. Connell’s Mrs. Bridge and Mr. Bridge, Mary Karr’s Lit and Sinner’s Welcome, as well as the instructor’s own forthcoming companion books, Travels in Vermeer and Vermeer in Hell. One question we will consider is how a writer can benefit from looking at one subject through the lens of two different genres. Another is how the lessons one learns in one form can translate to success in another. We’ll wind up our session with writing exercises that will explore different approaches to a given subject.


What’s the last book you bought for someone else?
Bobcat, by Rebecca Lee.

Where’s your favorite place in North Carolina?
Any undeveloped island off the Cape Fear coast.

Why do you write?
Some try to perfect their painting or singing or cooking to express their love for humanity: I write.

What book would you take with you to a desert island, if you could take only one?
The Tempest.

What advice would you give someone just about to go on stage to read their work for the first time?
Breathe easy and go a little slower than you think you should.

What is the ideal time limit when someone is reading from their work?
Twenty to forty minutes.

Do you write to discover, or do you write point-to-point (for example, from an outline)?
Always to discover.

Do you think some books should be banned from schools?

What was the first thing you ever published?
A terrible poem in an undergrad magazine. I have blocked the title from memory.

If you could be a different author, living or dead, who would you be?
I'd like to be Blake when God talks to him.

Do you read literary journals? What are some of your favorites?
Yes. The Missouri Review, The Iowa Review, and The Kenyon Review are favorites.

Are you scheduled in the time you set aside to write, or is your writing time more flexible than that?

If you could have a torrid but guilt-free affair with a fictional character, which one would it be?
At first I was tempted to list Anna Karenina or Madame Bovary, but on second thought I can and do have guilt-free affairs with characters and their authors on a daily basis.


The North Carolina Writers' Network 2013 Fall Conference will be held November 15-17 at the Holiday Inn Resort in Wrightsville Beach. Registration is now open.

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