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Sad News from the Weekend

It’s said these come in threes, and, sadly, it was true this weekend for North Carolina and our literary community.

In New York Saturday, playwright Romulus Linney died.  Though a native of Philadelphia, Linney spent much of his childhood in Boone; his father was a North Carolinian, and his great-grandfather had been a Congressman from Taylorsville.  As a writer, Linney had a truly remarkable range, but he told an interviewer in 2002 that “the pitch of the voices… in my Appalachian plays…  is a little sharper” than in the others.  (Movie buffs may know Linney as the father of actress Laura Linney.)

On Sunday, here in the Twin City, arts advocate Phil Hanes passed away.  Mr. Hanes was instrumental in bringing what’s now the UNC School of the Arts to Winston-Salem, and helping to turn this old factory town into the “City of Arts and Innovation.”  Later he took up the cause of downtown re-development; anyone who’s enjoyed the BookMarks Festival or Press 53’s new Center for Creative Writing owes a debt of gratitude to Phil Hanes.

In Greensboro, lawyer and legislator Mac Smith died Saturday.  Though not a writer, nor as involved in the arts as Phil Hanes, Smith’s work as an advocate for civil rights had a huge impact on our state and should be remembered by all North Carolinians, especially as we observe Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.