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Don’t Miss NC Poet Laureate in 2019!

Jaki Shelton Green, a 2014 inductee to the North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame, was installed as North Carolina’s ninth Poet Laureate in a ceremony on Raleigh on Monday, February 18.

Jaki is the first African American and the third woman to serve as the state’s “ambassador for poetry and the spoken word.”

If you’ve never seen Jaki speak or give a reading, though, we highly encourage you to get out to one of her many events this year.

The ceremony was Standing Room Only, and filled very quickly, so if you weren’t able to be there in person, you can watch the complete ceremony here.

She’s dynamic in front of a crowd, offering a quiet, insistent strength. Plus, her poetry both cuts to the Truth and offers its readers, or listeners, a way up and out of the turmoil we so often find ourselves in.

Click here for the calendar.

She’s almost certainly going to be somewhere near you, and soon. Don’t miss her!

The North Carolina Arts Council has put together a master calendar for Jaki’s upcoming events this year.







Happy Trails, Nancy Trovillion!

From our friends at the North Carolina Arts Council:

For more than 30 years, Nancy Trovillion has served as the Deputy Director of the North Carolina Arts Council, and it has been my privilege to work side by side with one of the most talented arts visionaries in the nation.

Nancy is not only a co-worker but a mentor and a friend. For these reasons, it is with mixed emotions that I share the news that Nancy will retire at the end of August.

Since joining the Arts Council in 1988, Nancy has helped shape the state’s arts industry with insight, creativity, and a passion that has contributed to our growth as a nationally recognized arts agency.

With quiet tenacity, Nancy has championed our arts organizations and artists ensuring they had the resources – financial and otherwise – to serve the citizens of our state with the highest artistic quality.

She developed several of the agency’s grant programs including New Realities, our nationally-recognized capacity building program for arts organizations in partnership with Arts Action Research; and a career development training program for artists in partnership with the Creative Capital Foundation.

Most recently she developed the SmART Initiative’s pilot program, which has been so successful that it is now one of our signature programs and a national model on how the arts transform downtowns and fuel sustainable economic development.

Nancy began her arts career forty-four years ago in Washington, DC, first at the Corcoran Gallery of Art and the Smithsonian Institution, and then at the National Endowment for the Arts, where she met Charles Reinhart and Mary Regan. Reinhart hired Nancy in 1980 to be the American Dance Festival’s Administrative Director where she served until 1988, when she was hired by Mary Regan to be Deputy Director at the North Carolina Arts Council.

Her list of accomplishments is long, and her impact extends from North Carolina to the national arts scene. We’ll be setting a date this summer for her retirement farewell. In the meantime, I know you will join me in thanking Nancy for her outstanding service to North Carolina.

Wayne Martin

David Joy Wins Southern Book Prize in Fiction

A North Carolina author has won the 2019 Southern Book Prize in Fiction.

David Joy of western North Carolina won the prize in Fiction for The Line That Held Us (Putnam & Sons). Bookmarks in Winston-Salem had this to say about it:

“With the Southern grit of Daniel Woodrell and the rich Appalachian cadence of Ron Rash, David Joy is the new voice of Southern noir. In The Line That Held Us, Joy drags the reader by the gut on a dark and twisted journey of violence and vengeance in a story that will not be soon forgotten.”

Joy is the author of the Edgar nominated novel Where All Light Tends To Go (Putnam, 2015), as well as the novels The Weight Of This World (Putnam, 2017) and The Line That Held Us (Putnam, 2018). He is also the author of the memoir Growing Gills: A Fly Fisherman’s Journey (Bright Mountain Books, 2011), which was a finalist for the Reed Environmental Writing Award and the Ragan Old North State Award.

Joy is the recipient of an artist fellowship from the North Carolina Arts Council. His latest short stories and essays have appeared in Time, The New York Times Magazine, Garden & Gun, and The Bitter Southerner.

The 2019 Southern Book Prize also was awarded to Rick Bragg in Nonfiction for The Best Cook in the World (Knopf) and to Jo Hackl in Children’s for Smack Dab in the Middle of Maybe (Random House).

The 2019 Southern Book Prize, presented by the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance, represents a change in both format and timing from past years. Previously timed to be announced in the summer, voting in 2019 began November 10 as part of the Love Your Bookstore Challenge Week, and was opened to Southern booksellers and their customers. Winners were selected by popular vote and will now be announced on Valentine’s Day.

Over 2,800 ballots were submitted by Southern readers, representing over 150 Southern independent bookstores and confirming the Southern Book Prize as a true “Southern Readers’ Choice” award.

For more information, click here.

Cold Mountain Review Offers Readers Chance to Vote their Favorites

Publishing a heady blend of “cosmopolitan bioregionalism,” Cold Mountain Review offers its readers poetry and prose, interviews and visual art, twice a year.

CMR is running its First Annual Readers’ Choice Awards, where readers can vote for their favorite poem, story, essay, and work of art from the Spring 2018 or Fall 2018 issues.

The deadline is tomorrow, February 15, so vote now!

The 2018 issues offer essays by NCWN trustee and Editor of the NC Literary Review Margaret Donovan Bauer, as well as Jeremy Jones; fiction by Michael McGuire and Kat McNichol; a book review by former NC poet laureate Joseph Bathanti; and poems by the finalists and winner of the 2018 R.T. Smith Prize for Narrative Poetry, including Valerie Nieman (finalist) and Kenneth Chamlee (honorable mention).

Cold Mountain Review has served writers for nearly half a century, bringing together “the mountains of the Appalachian Blue Ridge with the Tiatai Mountains of China.” Founders Jo Anne Eskridge, Charles Frazier, Donald Secreast, and R.T. Smith named the rag after Gary Snyder’s translations of Han-Shan’s Cold Mountain Poems.

Cold Mountain Review is published twice a year in the Department of English at Appalachian State University

Vote now!

In 2019, Professional Development Opportunities Abound

Tracie Morris

Thanks to a grant from the North Carolina Arts Council, the North Carolina Writers’ Network will host a one-day Career Development Workshop for Writers, presented by Creative Capital, on Saturday, March 30, at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

Register here.

Creative Capital’s intensive one-day Career Development Workshop will cover strategic planning, business management, goal setting, negotiations and income streams—all geared towards the specific needs and circumstances of writers. Participants will learn key business, management, and communications skills and hear first-hand from other writers how these tools can be used to achieve success, however they define it.

But the Greensboro event is just one of several Career Development workshops being held around the state in 2019. As follows:

  • Mallarmé Chamber Players & Creative Capital are hosting Beyond the Practice Room: Practical and Business Strategies for Professional Musicians. Sunday, March 3. Details.
  • Culture Mill & Creative Capital present Sustainably Engaged, a day-long workshop exploring tools, strategies and links between funding your work, and inclusive and equitable social engagement. Saturday, March 9. Details.
  • Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center & Creative Capital are offering a one-day Strategic Planning + Communications for Artists Workshop. Friday, March 15. Details.

These workshops are supported by the North Carolina Arts Council as part of its commitment to artists’ professional development. The N.C. Arts Council has partnered with Creative Capital for the past 15 years to bring high-quality training opportunities to North Carolina artists in all disciplines.

Accepted participants will leave the workshop with a personalized plan of action based on their own goals for their writing careers, a close community of informed and educated peer artists (including participants and workshop leaders) who can act as resources for future endeavors, and the Strategic Planning Workbook, which includes exercises and evaluation processes to work toward personal goal setting and financial management.

The registration fee for this full-day workshop—a value of more than $200, including morning and afternoon refreshments, lunch, and the Strategic Planning Workbook—is only $35 for NCWN members, $75 for non-members.

This Career Development Workshop is open only to the first 24 qualified applicants. Those who wish to register must apply online through the NCWN Submittable page, submitting a short writing sample, a current CV, and a brief Statement of Writing Intent, along with the registration fee. Applications will be reviewed and accepted on a rolling basis until the workshop fills or the registration deadline of Monday, March 18, whichever comes first—so don’t wait until the last minute to apply. Applicants who are not accepted into the workshop will receive a refund of their registration fee.

To apply, click here!

Being “High Roaded” Has Never Felt So Good

From our friends at Press 53:

The first annual High Road Festival of Poetry and Short Fiction will be in Winston-Salem on Saturday, March 23, at the downtown Embassy Suites, featuring several master classes, seminars, and one-on-one critique sessions led by professional poets and writers, including former NC Poet Laureate Cathy Smith Bowers (poetry), two time Pushcart Prize-winner David Jauss (short fiction), Columbia, South Carolina, Poet Laureate Ed Madden, award-winning short fiction author Jen Julian, and many others. There will be a reading room open to the public and a vendor room with publishers, editors, and writing organizations.*

Friday night at 7:30 at Bookmarks Bookstore, cowboy poet Sean Sexton will read with Clint McCown, and to wrap up the weekend a Sunday morning seminar with Tom Lombardo: “Women’s Elegies: Anne Sexton (1960) to Jennifer Holley Lux (2018)—What Has Changed?”

For complete information go to

*The North Carolina Writers’ Network will have an exhibitor’s table at this festival. Come by and say hello!

Gone but Not Forgotten

by Rita Berman

This past year, some of our treasured writers and publishers left this world.

The loss of creative individuals is felt not only by family and friends but reverberates to the general public. Their voices are stilled, and we are left only with what has been published, recorded, or filmed; stories that we have enjoyed before and may find ourselves drawn to again. 

I mourn the passing of Carol Reuss, a friend and one-time fellow member of Women in Communications, Inc. 

Carol died on Wednesday, December 31, 2018. She was one of the first women on the faculty of the UNC School of Media and Journalism in 1976.  She started the public relations program and guided many students in their choice of a career in communications. A quiet- spoken woman, she was generous with her time and interest. After her teaching career ended and she became Professor Emeritus, she served as an Associate Provost at UNC from 1987-94.

Perry Deane Young died on New Year’s Day 2019 in Chapel Hill.

A couple of years ago, I ordered a used book from Amazon and was thrilled to find not only had it been mailed form Chapel Hill but it had his name on the flyleaf.  

Young was a journalist and author who first found fame as a Vietnam War correspondent.  He attended UNC in 1959 and returned to Chapel Hill in 1993. Young also wrote plays and books, one of which was the 1977 best-seller, The David Kopay Story.  His time in Vietnam as a war correspondent for United Press International was later fictionalized as the Dennis Hopper character in the 1979 movie, Apocalypse Now.  When he was interviewed by the News & Observer in 2015, he said that of all the Vietnam movies that was the one that got it most right.  His best-known book was also about Vietnam, Two of the Missing.

Billy Barnes, Sr., was a photographer, writer, and film producer who died September 5, 2018.

He too lived in Chapel Hill, and our paths had crossed a number of times, participating in various community events and writers’ conferences. Barnes became a photographer during the late 1950s, following a tour of duty in the Korean War.  His first job was with McGraw-Hill Publishing Company in New York where he established his reputation as a documentary photographer. He worked for the North Carolina Fund in 1964-1968, which was an offshoot of Lyndon B. Johnson’s War on Poverty. In the years that followed, his photographs and articles were published in local and national media, as well as short film features on UNC-TV. Barnes was also a lover of music and played the guitar and harmonica.

Ralph Bernard Reeves, III, died at the beginning of 2018 on February 24.

Better known as “Bernie,” he was a vibrant personality and civic and community leader. He had attended the University of North Carolina and had a keen interest in history. He founded an alternative weekly paper, launching the Spectator Magazine in 1978, and I was thrilled when he published some of my travel articles.  When he founded the Triangle Business Journal in 1985 I became one of his contributors.  Reeves was a keen promoter of the growing Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill area, envisioning it would become, “the Triangle, a uniformed community, whether they liked it or not,” he wrote. He received many awards for his professional work and service to the North Carolina community, a more complete list appeared on the News & Observer Obituary page on February 26, 2018.  In 2011, he was honored by the Association of Retired Intelligence Officers for his founding and producing of the Raleigh Spy Conference.  

On the national scene, I note the passing in 2018 of Anthony Bourdain, Harlan Ellison, Peter Mayle, V. S. Naipaul, Philip Roth, Neil Simon, and Tom Wolfe.

Their stories introduced readers to a variety of experiences.  Bourdain’s memoir of his life as a chef in Kitchen Confidential, warned what could happen if you alienated your waiter. Naipaul presented colonial society at the beginnings of great transition, using mostly his own family in A House for Mr. Biswas.  Philip Roth explored male sexuality, Jewish identity, and mortality in Portnoy’s Complaint and Tom Wolfe, a journalist and satirist, skewered the elite in The Bonfire of Vanities.

Harlan Ellison is said to have written more than 1,700 short stories and articles and at least 100 books. His best-known works includeA Boy and His Dog,” which was made into a 1975 movie. He contributed The City on the Edge of Forever, a back-in-time episode of the Star Trek television series in 1967, and numerous episodes to television series such as The Man from U.N.C.L.E, The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, and The Twilight Zone. Isaac Asimov once called Ellison “one of the best writers in the world.”

France has been a favorite holiday destination for me ever since I was a young girl and Peter Mayle’s memoir A Year in Provence describes life as it was in the mid 1980s. The book was expected to sell only a few thousand copies, but more than 5 million copies were sold worldwide. He followed up with Toujours Provence in 1991. After experiencing visitors knocking on his door and walking through his property he was disenchanted and for some years he moved to Long Island New York, but returned to France in the late 1990s without revealing his location. In 2006 he said, “The only thing I want from tomorrow is that it should be as good as today.”  He died in a hospital near his home on January 18, 2018.

V.S. Naipaul was born in Trinidad. He won the 2001 Nobel Prize for literature and wrote twenty-nine books, fourteen of them nonfiction works. A House for Mr. Biswas is said to be his most significant work. He was eighty-five when he died on August 11, 2018.  According to his obituary in The Guardian, his native island, the former British colony of Trinidad, with its extraordinary meeting of peoples and cultures, was his seedbed. In 1950, Naipaul went to University College, Oxford, to study English and become a writer. He admired journalism (the occupation of his father), because it was much better than the novel in keeping up realistically with the changing world. In his Nobel lecture he said, “Everything of value was in his books.”

For more than forty years, Neil Simon entertained readers and playgoers with his humorous observations of life.  He won the Pulitzer Prize for Lost in Yonkers and the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor. His play Brighton Beach Memoirs ran for four years on Broadway in the post-1950s era.  In his 600 plus page book, Memoirs, Simon said he created the play’s family by doing the exact opposite to what happened to him in his own life. The Goodbye Girl is another of my favorite movies, with Richard Dreyfuss and Marsha Mason, who became the second of Simon’s four wives. Simon was 91 when he died August 26, 2018.     

For those of us who enjoyed their creativity there is sadness when their voices are stilled. But how fortunate we are that we can access their works in print or on screen.  They are gone but not forgotten.

This article originally appeared in RPG.

When a Publisher Cuts Ties with Amazon and Sales Soar

For writers, and especially publishers, it can sometimes seem like all roads lead through Amazon (much to the dismay of independent booksellers everywhere).

But Educational Development Corporation, a publisher of children’s books and resources based in Tulsa, Oklahoma, is seeing phenomenal growth and record-breaking net sales since making the risky decision to cut the Amazon cord in 2015.

The Winston-Salem Journal recently profiled EDC.

The company produces Usborne and Kane Miller Books, championed by tens of thousands of parents and educators around the world.

Ending their relationship with Amazon meant EDC has to quintuple its staff and work around the clock. Handling their own customer service meant learning (and failing) on the fly: their first holiday season, “the company had 25,000 customer service errors in three months at a cost of roughly $1 million.”

Now, though, after spending some $7 million to fully automate their order fulfillment process, profits are up 30 percent and sales have nearly tripled in the past three years.

It helps too that they make quality products. Many of the books are richly illustrated and constructed with durable material. You may pay a bit more in shipping (no Amazon Prime deals here), but this is a company that knows what kids like and what the kids’ parents want to buy them.

The company is set to introduce more than 200 of its titles in Spanish. The move is aimed both at school book fairs, particularly schools that offer Spanish immersion programs, and at families who prefer to speak Spanish in the home.

For more information about EDC, visit

Malaprop’s Changes Ownership, but Not Its Vision

After thirty-seven years, Emöke B’Racz, the founder of Malaprop’s Bookstore & Cafe in downtown Asheville, will step down as majority owner, effective immediately.

She hands the reigns to longtime employee Gretchen Horn, who is now majority owner of Renaissance Bookfarm, Inc., which owns Malaprop’s Bookstore/Cafe and Downtown Books & News. Emöke will remain as founder and minority owner.

Malaprop’s, founded in 1982, is an independent bookstore carrying a
“carefully curated selection of books for adults, children, and young adults, as well as a large array of gift items.”

“I wanted Malaprop’s to be a place where poetry mattered,” says
Emöke, “where a woman’s words were as important as a man’s, where excellence was customary, where good writing had a home, where I could nurture my addiction to literature, and play, enjoy, and entertain people drawn to quality books.”

By any standard, she has succeeded.

“I’ve gotten a lot of free coffee, free books, and free events for the last seventeen years,” Gretchen, who began working at the cafe inside Malaprop’s while she was an undergard at UNC-Asheville, jokes. “I love it here…I work for Emöke. And I essentially still will be because I want to retain her vision. I will always work for Malaprop’s, which is a place that Emöke created.”

In an article in The New York Times, author Anne Patchett said, “Malaprop’s was the heart and soul of Asheville, N.C., when Asheville was a sleepy little hippie town, and it’s still its heart and soul now that the city is cool and overcrowded, a position Malaprop’s maintained by being unabashedly true to itself.”

That same vision and commitment to staying “true to oneself” will no doubt continue now that Gretchen is at the helm.

Malaprop’s is located at 55 Haywood St. in downtown Asheville.

Visit them on the web at They’re also on Facebook , Twitter, and Instagram.

NC Book Festival Call for Volunteers

The North Carolina Book Festival 2019 runs February 22-24 and provides a wide variety of audiences access to a diverse slate of local, national, and international writers and artists.

Formerly hosted on a rotating basis by the libraries at NC State, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and Duke, the festival will now take place at venues throughout downtown Raleigh.

Featuring readings, panels, demonstrations, and lectures from award winning presenters and performers, the festival will showcase both traditional and non-traditional genres such as comic books and graphic novels.

Guests include North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame inductees Jaki Shelton Green and Jill McCorkle; 2019 Piedmont Laureate David Menconi; Wilton Barnhardt; Belle Boggs; Sandra Cisneros; Tyre Daye; Ben Fountain; Scott Huler; Jeff Jackson; Elaine Neil Orr; Alan Shapiro; Daniel Wallace; and many, many more.

Another core element to this year’s festival is the book fair. A platform for local presses, literary journals, authors, and vendors, the book fair will foster an appreciation for, and a familiarity with, the people and organizations who advocate for the authors and artists we love and produce and distribute the work that is so important to our cultural lives.

If you are interested in volunteering, the festival will need help throughout the day on 2/23. Please contact Chris Tonelli at