Somewhere in the train wreck of a year that was 2020, we missed the exciting news that UNC-Asheville has established a Writer-in-Residence program at the childhood home of NC Literary Hall of Fame inductee Wilma Dykeman.
“This is a program not just for writers, but for all of us who live here Asheville,” said UNC Asheville Chancellor Nancy J. Cable. “The Writers-in-Residence Program will allow writers through the spring semester, and summer, and even through the fall, to live in Wilma Dykeman’s original childhood home, located only several miles outside of the city of Asheville. We will bring writers who teach for an entire semester. We will bring writers, particularly during the summer, who may be here only for a weekend or for a week at a time, but having the privilege to live in the house.”
The official press release from UNCA offers extensive quotes from many important people affiliated with the project, and they’re worth a read. In short, the residencies will be interdisciplinary, brief but year-round, sustainable, and tied to a sense of place.
Wilma Dykeman (1920-2006) was elected to the NC Literary Hall of Fame in 1998. A novelist, essayist, and historian, she received a Guggenheim Fellowship and the 1985 North Carolina Award for Literature. She held the honorary title of Tennessee State Historian from 1981 until she died. According to the Wilma Dykeman Legacy, she made “the first full-fledged economic argument against water pollution (seven years before) in her 1955 book The French Broad.”
Although as of right now, no information seems to be available as to when the program might welcome its first writer-in-residence, we’ll be sure to let you know as soon as we have more details.
Hat tip to Wiley Cash, who put this project on our radar when he designated his winnings from the 2022 Southern Book Prize for Fiction for “the creation of the Wilma Dykeman Writer-in-Residence Program at UNC-Asheville to support other writers.”