Five of the state’s most beloved and accomplished writers will enter the North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame this fall.
Former North Carolina Poet Laureate Joseph Bathanti, groundbreaking essayist and educator Anna Julia Cooper, bestselling novelist Kaye Gibbons, poet and professor Lenard Moore, and Appalachian bard Ron Rash will join the hall in a ceremony on October 6 at the Weymouth Center in Southern Pines.
The North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame celebrates and promotes the state’s rich literary heritage by commemorating its leading authors and encouraging the continued flourishing of great literature. Inductions are held every other year. A list of the 70 current inductees, as well as samples of their work and video clips of past inductions, can be found online at www.nclhof.org.
Bathanti was the Poet Laureate of North Carolina from 2012 to 2014, and has received both the North Carolina Award for Literature and the Order of the Long Leaf Pine. He is the author or editor of more than 20 books of poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, and criticism. Since 2001 he has taught at Appalachian State University in Boone.
Cooper was a writer, teacher, and activist who championed education for African Americans and women. Born enslaved in Raleigh in 1858, she left North Carolina in 1879 to accept a scholarship to Oberlin College in Ohio, where she earned both a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in mathematics. She published her first book, A Voice from the South by a Black Woman of the South, in 1892. In addition to calling for equal education for women, A Voice from the South advanced Cooper’s assertion that educated African American women were necessary for uplifting the entire black race. The book of essays gained national attention, and Cooper began lecturing across the country on topics such as education, civil rights, and the status of black women.
Gibbons was born in 1960 on Bend of the River Road in Nash County. Her debut novel Ellen Foster, written when she was only 26, earned numerous awards and the praise of Eudora Welty and Walker Percy. It and her later novel A Virtuous Woman were Oprah Book Club selections in 1998, catapulting both to the top of the New York Times bestseller list. She is a member of the Fellowship of Southern Writers and a Chevalier De L’Ordre Des Arts Et Des Lettres, a knighthood awarded by France’s Ministry of Culture.
Moore, a North Carolina native and U.S. Army Veteran, is the Founder and Executive Director of the Carolina African American Writers’ Collective and Co-founder of the Washington Street Writers Group. Moore’s poems, short stories, essays and reviews have appeared in over 400 publications, as well as in more than 100 anthologies. He is the author of The Open Eye, Forever Home, Desert Storm: A Brief History, A Temple Looming, and The Open Eye, Limited 30TH Anniversary Edition.
Rash is the author of the PEN/Faulkner finalist and New York Times bestselling novel Serena, in addition to the critically acclaimed novels The Risen, Above the Waterfall, The Cove, One Foot in Eden, Saints at the River, and The World Made Straight; five collections of poems; and seven collections of stories, among them Burning Bright, which won the 2010 Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award, Nothing Gold Can Stay, a New York Times bestseller, Chemistry and Other Stories, which was a finalist for the 2007 PEN/Faulkner Award, and In the Valley. Three times the recipient of the O. Henry Prize, his books have been translated into seventeen languages. He teaches at Western Carolina University.
The North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame was founded in 1996, under the leadership of poet laureate Sam Ragan, and is a program of the North Carolina Writers’ Network. Since 2008, the Network and the Weymouth Center collaborate with the North Carolina Center for the Book, North Carolina Humanities, and North Carolina Collection of the Wilson Library at UNC-Chapel Hill to produce the induction ceremony and to promote the NCLHOF and North Carolina’s literary heritage.