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Changes Coming to Yahoo! Groups

While the results have yet to be tabulated from the survey we sent out last week, asking all you writers how you use tech, one thing is clear: a whole lot of you use Facebook Groups to build your literary communities.

While we didn’t ask about Yahoo!, their group functionality was one of the first to come online to the wild, wild internet in the late nineties and early aughts. They’re making some large-scale changes to how Yahoo! Groups operates, so on the off-chance you’re still part of one listserv or  another, we thought we’d pass along this e-mail we received last night from Yahoo!

Dear Group Moderators and Members,

Last month we notified you of the changes coming to Yahoo Groups that better align with user habits, and today we are providing an update to guide you through the next steps of the transition. Yahoo Groups is not going away – but we are making adjustments to ultimately serve you better. We are amazed at the vibrant community you’ve created through Yahoo Groups and we want to make sure you feel supported as we introduce these changes.

The following changes were made since our last communication:

• Users can now only join a Yahoo Group through an invite or group request approval by the Group Moderator.
• New Groups can’t be public. They can only be private (not listed in Groups directory, membership by invitation only) or restricted (listed in Groups directory, membership requests must be approved by a Group Moderator).
• Members must share all content via email, and can no longer upload or host new content on the Yahoo Groups website itself.

The following changes will be made on December 14, 2019:

• Public groups will no longer exist. All existing public Groups will become restricted Groups that require Group Moderator approval to join.
Any content that was previously uploaded via the website will be removed.

If you would like to keep any of the content you’ve posted or stored within your Yahoo Group, please download it by December 14 by accessing the Groups Download Manager at this link. Once you provide your preferred email address, we will send you a confirmation of your download request and notify you once the download is complete.

You will receive a link to a downloadable zip file via email for each of your Groups organized into a separate folder. Download time varies depending on the amount of information and file size.

If your download request is made by 11:59pm PST on Saturday, December 14, 2019, your content will not be deleted until your download is complete. We are unable to accommodate any download requests made after this deadline.

This is the final reminder to download your content. You can find additional information about the upcoming changes here.

We have worked extensively with our customer support team to develop recommendations for tools that can help you with any download issues. See help article here.

We have watched the evolution of Yahoo Groups with awe, as we grew to a community of millions with over 10 million Groups. Every day, we witness the power of community and shared passions, and our mission is to provide a platform for the strong connections people make with each other around their interests.

We thank you for being part of the Yahoo Groups community and look forward to continuing to provide ways for you to connect with one another about your shared interests and passions.

The Groups Team

So, key takeaways: public groups are gone, and if you want to save any content you’ve uploaded to a Yahoo! group in the past twenty years, you have until 11:59 pm on Saturday, December 14, 2019, to retrieve it before it disappears forever. Godspeed!

PEN America Launches NC-Based Chapter

PEN AmericaThis fall, PEN America established six new regional chapters in the United States. Founded in 1922, the esteemed organization has traditionally been associated with the coasts, operating offices in Los Angeles, New York City, and Washington, D.C.

Now, chapters have launched in:

(Full disclosure: Deonna Kelli Sayed, the Membership Coordinator for NCWN, is the PEN America representative for The Piedmont Region of NC.)

The launch of these new chapters brings PEN America members together to stage writers in conversations, advocacy campaigns, public debates, and more, drawing on PEN America’s national resources and the creative energy and priorities of the local literary community.

“At a time of exceptional threats to free expression and open discourse, our chapters will bring years of mobilization, activism and organizing among writing communities across the country to the next level. We are exceptionally proud of the local leaders who are driving forward this effort,” said PEN America CEO Suzanne Nossel. “Our movement—called PEN Across America—is pushing back against the breakdown of civil discourse, the marginalization of vital voices, and encroachments on press freedom, driving forward PEN America’s mission at a time when it has never been more essential.’’

To find out more about The Piedmont Region of North Carolina chapter, and to sign up to receive more information, click here.

The next NC-based PEN America event is “Free Speech At a Time of Hate Speech,” which happens Wednesday, January 29, at the Greensboro History MuseumJonathan Friedman, PEN’s Project Director of Campus Free Speech, will be joined by two others. For more about the event, click here.

PEN America is the largest of the more than 100 centers worldwide that make up the PEN International network. PEN America works to ensure that people everywhere have the freedom to create literature, to convey information and ideas, to express their views, and to access the views, ideas, and literatures of others. Their strength is our Membership—a nationwide community of more than 7,200 novelists, journalists, nonfiction writers, editors, poets, essayists, playwrights, publishers, translators, agents, and other writing professionals, as well as devoted readers and supporters who join with them to carry out PEN America’s mission.

For more information about PEN America, visit

Gerald Barrax, RIP

NC Literary Hall of Fame inductees Ronald H. Bayes & Gerald Barrax, w/ poet Li-Young Lee, circa 1991.

Beloved author, teacher, and North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame inductee Gerald Barrax died Saturday in Raleigh. He was 86.

Barrax was struck by a vehicle while crossing the street. The driver has been charged.

Winner of the 2009 North Carolina Award for Literature, the state’s highest civilian honor, Barrax was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award for his poetry collection, Leaning Against the Sun. He joined the faculty of North Carolina State University in 1969 as the university’s first African American professor.

Author of five poetry collections, he served as editor of Obsidian, a major contemporary journal, and as poetry editor for Callaloo. He was inducted into the North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame in 2006.

Funeral services will be held Friday, December 20, at 12:00 pm at Lea Funeral Home Chapel, 2500 Poole Rd., Raleigh. Visitation will be 11:00 am – 12:00 pm preceding the funeral service at the chapel.

We’ll update this post with more information as it becomes available.

Maggie Zwilling Retires from CCCC after Nearly Fifteen Years

By Steve Underwood

Maggie Zwilling

The Central Carolina Community College Continuing Education Creative Writing Program Advisory Committee and the Chatham-Lee Counties region of the North Carolina Writers’ Network would like to recognize, and celebrate, the contributions of Ms. Maggie Zwilling for her work in developing and expanding creative writing opportunities for hundreds of students.

Maggie has been a member of the CCCC staff for many years. She was instrumental in creating North Carolina’s first (and only) Community College Creative Writing Certificate. Through her work, students have benefited from the instruction of talented writers including Ruth Moose, Ralph Earle, and Michele T. Berger.

Maggie’s work at the Pittsboro and Siler City campuses of CCCC also included helping develop programs in pottery, woodwork, and even Tai Chi. In addition, Maggie was an essential member of the Chatham Arts Council. She facilitated artists and craft workers, often helping to sponsor events that celebrated their accomplishments. Students admired her ability to match the right courses for them. Faculty appreciated her ability to prepare and promote their classes. Many noted that Maggie would often sit in on the first night of classes. She was determined to assist the orientation of both students and teachers, and they were all grateful for her talents.

Perhaps Maggie expressed her motivation best when she wrote to the Associate Dean of Continuing Education, “I have tried never to discourage those in our community who wanted to develop classes like Creative Writing. I have helped them develop a course outline, and worked to facilitate their class syllabus and academic assignments.”

Mary Barnard of CCCC’s Creative Writing Board summed up Maggie’s outstanding career by noting:

“Maggie’s contributions to the CCCC were manifold. She made things possible. Her perseverance not only led to the Certificate in the Creative Writing program, but also the creation of a tuition scholarship to help Creative Writing students. She created diversity within our programs by seeking writers to teach classes like ‘Dream Poems’, ‘Unlock your Imagination,’ and ‘Bob Dylan As Poet.’ She encouraged instructors to help students delve into their creative processes with courses such as ‘Passionate Grammar,’ ‘Energy and Message,’ and ‘Adjective and Adverb.’ I remember being surprised to find that she worked part-time, because her devotion to the cause of writing was definitely full time.”

Maggie has truly been a remarkable coordinator, advisor and friend.

Tomorrow Is Giving Tuesday, but You Can Give Anytime

Charles Frazier in conversation at the NCWN 2019 Fall Conference

If you came to our Fall Conference—or you’ve just been paying attention—then you can guess why I felt a recent urge to re-read Charles Frazier’s debut novel, Cold Mountain.

One of the best reasons to re-read a book is to see what sticks this time, and wonder why. Last week, I was struck by a passage I barely remembered from my first go-round. When Ruby Thewes tells Mrs. McKennet what little she knows of “the northern country,” with whom North Carolina’s at war, she concludes by saying:

They had, as well, invented a holiday called Thanksgiving, which Ruby had only recently got news of, but from what she gathered its features to be, she found it to contain the mark of a tainted culture. To be thankful on just the one day.

Last week, we celebrated that one day, which means that tomorrow, by popular acclaim, is Giving Tuesday.

On this matter, I might just hold with Ruby, that setting aside “just the one day” for giving is “the mark of a tainted culture.” But while the North Carolina Writers’ Network is fortunate to have supporters who give to us near about every day through the year, we do hope you’ll spare a moment tomorrow (or today) to make a donation to the Network.

Your gift, in any amount, will make a difference to the literary community we nurture and serve. You will help a deserving writer get scholarship aid to one of our conferences. You will help spread the unique satisfactions of creative writing through NCWN programs like Prison Writers Outreach. You’ll help a novice writer find instruction and inspiration, an emerging writer find an agent or a publisher, and writers at all stages and levels find excellence, opportunity, and community.

Please donate to the North Carolina Writers’ Network—on Giving Tuesday, or any other day that suits you. Whatever you give, whenever you give, we will be grateful for your support of the Network and the writers we serve.

Sincerely yours,

Ed Southern
Executive Director
North Carolina Writers’ Network

Saturday Is Small Business Saturday

Circle City Books & Music, Pittsboro

Saturday, November 30, is “Small Business Saturday,” a great time to remember your independent bookstores and small presses (and authors!) as you hunt for gifts for your loved ones.

Small Business Saturday is held annually following Black Friday, the Friday after Thanksgiving, considered one of the busiest shopping days of the year.

American Express established Small Business Saturday in 2010 to give “small businesses and brick-and-mortar stores across the country a special boost.” The staunchly local holiday deliberately falls between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, when a lot of great deals are available online.

Interested in pitching in for your small businesses? Click here.

To get started, the North Carolina Writers’ Network offers a list of North Carolina-based non-profit literary organizations, including publishers, here.

Authors ’round the South offers a list of all indie bookstores, by state, here.

Poets & Writers magazine allows users to search for publishers by state. For a list of small presses based in North Carolina, click here.

And happy shopping!

National Book Award Winners Announced

The National Book Foundation has announced the winners of the 2019 National Book Award:


















NCWN at NC Rural Assembly This Week

If you’re heading to the North Carolina Rural Assembly this week, in Raleigh, be sure to swing through the exhibit hall and stop by our table.

Ed Southern, Executive Director of the North Carolina Writers’ Network, will lead the breakout session “(Re)Writing the Rural Narrative” at 3:30 pm on Thursday, November 21.

Other special guests include Connie Stewart, Executive Director of the California Center for Rural Policy; Patrick Torres, the Artistic Director for Raleigh Little Theatre; and the Triangle-based Poetry Fox, who bangs out on-demand poems on vintage typewriters.

The NC Rural Assembly is hosted annually by the NC Rural Center. The two-day event includes breakout sessions; a keynote address; receptions and networking functions; and “Create Your State,” a multimedia presentation and workshop that inspires and empowers community revitalization and development.

Registration is closed; to be added to the wait-list, click here.

For more information about the NC Rural Assembly, click here.

Find the Best Writing Degree Program for You

Attendees at the NCWN 2019 Pre-Conferernce Tailgate

If you or someone in your family is looking to enter a professional field that requires excellent writing skills—be it as an editor, a journalist, a published novelist, or anything else you can dream up—a degree program may be your next, best step.

Wouldn’t it be nice to have some help choosing the best program? has created a guide to programs for writing students. It covers core concerns and considerations for those looking to enter the field, including specializations, program options, and job outlooks.

For example, here’s a list of the Top 20 Online Bachelor’s Writing Programs.

The website also offers a “College Finder” search function where would-be degree seekers use certain criteria to search for the best program to achieve their academic and professional goals.

For example, searching for a Master’s Degree in Writing opens up a portal for Southern New Hampshire University, which offers an online MA in English and Creative Writing.

Check it out at

Marty Silverthorne, RIP

Marty Silverthorne (left) with 2018 NC Literary Hall of Fame inductee Marsha Warren (center). © David Potorti, 2018

It was with great sadness that we learned the news of Marty Silverthorne’s passing on November 7. Marty was a poet, a champion of writers, and a longtime friend of the North Carolina Writers’ Network who was around for the Network’s inception in 1985.

Marty (1957-2019) was the author of seven poetry chapbooks, including Naming the Scars, winner of the 2017 Longleaf Press Chapbook Competition sponsored by Methodist University.

He received the Bunn-McClelland Chapbook Award in 1985; the Sam Ragan Award of Extraordinary Contributions to the Fine Arts of North Carolina in 1993; the Persephone Press Award in 1997; and won the NC Poetry Society Poet Laureate Award in 2015. He received numerous regional arts grants from the North Carolina Arts Council.

A graduate of St. Andrews Presbyterian College and East Carolina University, Marty’s poems appeared in the North Carolina Literary Review, Tar River Poetry, Pembroke Magazine, St. Andrews Review, and many more.

“These poems lift up the roots and reveal well-crafted tenderness and emphatic imagination that bears witness to the longings and challenges we all have confronting our angels, our ghosts, loves, and losses,” said NC Poet Laureate Jaki Shelton Green, about Marty’s chapbook Holy Ghosts of Whiskey. “[Silverthorne] makes us dream about the rapture of what it means to be eat up with music.”

Marty, a graduate of Williamson High School, was left paralyzed after a motorcycle accident in 1976. He was instrumental in securing a grant to provide ADA access to the White Cross School in Chapel Hill, when the NC Writers’ Network was housed there.

“Silverthorne’s direct and forceful words, and his unrelentingly honest images force us into a world that we would not know without his poems, a world both horrifying and blessed,” said Anthony S. Abbott, a poet and recipient of the NC Award for Literature, “horrifying because of the continuing illness the quadriplegia the narrator must face, and blessed because of the extraordinary caregivers whose portraits Silverthorne paints so vividly, caregivers and family member who become healers.”

Marty was a resident of Greenville, NC.