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NCWN Members Among NCPS 2019 Contest Winners

From our friends at the North Carolina Poetry Society:

Benjamin Cutler

RALEIGH—The North Carolina Poetry Society (NCPS) has announced the names of its 2019 adult poetry contest winners. Winning poets will receive cash prizes and their poems will be published in the annual anthology, Pinesong.

Winning poets have been invited to read at Sam Ragan Awards Day at the Weymouth Center for the Arts and Humanities in Southern Pines on Saturday, May 11, 2019. All poetry lovers are invited to attend.

The Poet Laureate prize was awarded by North Carolina poet laureate, Jaki Shelton Green, to Maureen Sherbondy for her poem “Gretel.”

Other first-prize winners are [NCWN members in bold – ed.]:

  • Jane Shlensky (Bahama, NC), “A Short History of Mystery” – Alice Osborn Award (poems written for children ages 2-12)
  • Crystal Simone Smith (Durham, NC), “slave museum” – Bloodroot Haiku Award
  • Benjamin Cutler (Whittier, NC), “Speak of Rivers” – Carol Bessent Hayman Poetry of Love Award
  • Alan Michael Parker (Davidson, NC), “Virtual Villanelle” – Joanna Catherine Scott Award (traditional forms)
  • Don Ball (Raleigh, NC), “The Grammar of Kissing” – Katherine Kennedy McIntyre Light Verse Award
  • Les Brown (Troutman, NC), “I Am from Black Earth” – Mary Ruffin Poole American Heritage Award
  • Pam Baggett (Cedar Grove, NC), “Stampede” – Poetry of Courage Award
  • Benjamin Cutler (Whittier, NC), “The Church of Unmaking” – Poetry of Witness Award
  • Barbara Blanks (Garland, TX), “Time Lines,” Ruth Morris Moose Sestina Award
  • Les Brown (Troutman, NC), “Bathing and Grabbling on a Hot Summer Day” – Thomas H. McDill Award

The complete list of judges and winners can be found on the NCPS website (

About the North Carolina Poetry Society

The North Carolina Poetry Society is an all-volunteer organization especially for poets and friends of poetry. We have over 450 members from North Carolina and numerous locations beyond. The North Carolina Poetry Society serves its membership by offering opportunities to study the craft of writing poetry; to participate in contests and competitions; and to enjoy a meaningful connection with poets throughout our state.

An Evening with David Sedaris

From our friends at Innovation Arts & Entertainment:

RALEIGH—David Sedaris, author of the previous bestsellers Naked, Me Talk Pretty One Day, Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim, and regular National Public Radio contributor, will be appearing for one night only at the Duke Energy Center in Raleigh on Sunday, December 1 at 7:00 pm, following the release of his newest book and New York Times #1 bestseller, Calypso.

This is a unique opportunity to see the bestselling humorist in an intimate setting. As always, Sedaris will be offering a selection of all-new readings and recollections, as well as a Q&A session and book signing.

NCWN members have special access to presale tickets, available NOW! Just use this link:

And get your tickets before they’re made available to the general public.

With sardonic wit and incisive social critiques, Mr. Sedaris has become one of America’s pre-eminent humor writers. The great skill with which he slices through cultural euphemisms and political correctness proves that Sedaris is a master of satire and one of the most observant writers addressing the human condition today.

David Sedaris returns to the road following the release of his most deeply personal and darkly hilarious collection, Calypso. Sedaris sets his formidable powers of observation toward middle age and mortality. Make no mistake: these stories are very, very funny—it’s a book that can make you laugh ’til you snort, the way only family can. Sedaris’s powers of observation have never been sharper, and his ability to shock readers into laughter unparalleled. But much of the comedy here is born out of that vertiginous moment when your own body betrays you and you realize that the story of your life is made up of more past than future.

If you love David Sedaris’s cheerfully misanthropic stories, you might think you know what you’re getting into at his live readings. You’d be wrong. To see him read his own work on stage allows his autobiographical narrative to reveal a uniquely personal narrative that will keep you laughing throughout the evening. Don’t miss this event!

All seats at the Duke Energy Center are reserved, and range in price from $45-$60 and are subject to additional taxes and fees. Tickets are on sale to the general public on Friday, April 19, at

Linda Flowers Award Now Open!

From our friends at the North Carolina Humanities Council:

CHARLOTTE—The North Carolina Humanities Council, a statewide cultural nonprofit, invites original, unpublished entries of fiction, nonfiction, or poetry for their 2019 Linda Flowers Literary Award. The award is given to exceptional North Carolina authors whose work celebrates the North Carolina experience and conveys excellence in writing.

Submissions will be accepted online from April 12-June 28 at

The Linda Flowers Literary Award was inaugurated in 2001 in memory of the late, former North Carolina Humanities Council Trustee Linda Flowers (1944-2000) who believed that the humanities are “equipment for living.” With the annual award, the Council seeks to celebrate excellence in the humanities achieved by people, like Linda Flowers, who identify with and explore the promises, the problems, the experiences, and the many cultures of North Carolina.

The North Carolina Humanities Council will award the winner of the Linda Flowers Literary Award a cash prize of $1,500 and a stipend for a writer’s residency at Weymouth Center for the Arts and Humanities in Southern Pines, North Carolina. The winner will be announced at the North Carolina Writers’ Network’s Fall Conference in November 2019.

Abbreviated 2019 submission guidelines are listed below. For the full list of guidelines or to apply, visit

  • Entries should detail examinations of intimate, provocative, and inspiring portraiture of North Carolina, its people and cultures.
  • Entries should be deeply engaged with North Carolina by drawing on particular North Carolina connections and/or memories.
  • Entries should demonstrate excellence in the humanities.
  • Entries, regardless of genre, should be original, unpublished works.
  • Entries must be from authors who are at least 18 years of age and currently live in North Carolina
  • Entries must not exceed 10 pages.

About North Carolina Humanities Council:

The North Carolina Humanities Council is a statewide nonprofit and affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Through grant-making and public humanities programs, the Council serves as an advocate for lifelong learning and thoughtful dialogue about our shared human experience. The Council operates the North Carolina Center for the Book, an affiliate program of the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress. To learn more visit

EDITOR’S NOTE: Don’t miss the 2018 winner, Jennifer Brown, tonight at 5:30 pm the Weymouth Center for the Arts & Humanities in Southern Pines! 

NC Author Among SIBA’s Spring Okra Picks

The Southeastern Independent Booksellers Alliance (SIBA) has announced their 2019 Spring Okra Picks.

Among the picks is the debut novel by Belle Boggs, The Gulf, a “hilarious send-up of writing workshops, for-profit education, and the gulf between believers and nonbelievers.”

Belle is an associate professor in the Department of English at the North Carolina State University. She has published work in Glimmer Train, Oxford American, and Best New American Voices 2003. She received an MA in fiction from the University of California at Irvine and grew up in King William County, Virginia. She is the author of the short-story collection Mattaponi Queen: Stories (Graywolf Press, 2010) and the collection of essays The Art of Waiting: On Fertility, Medicine, and Motherhood (Graywolf Press, 2016).

“Belle Boggs has established herself as both a stellar writer of fiction and a brilliant voice on important issues within our society,” says NC Literary Hall of Fame inductee Jill McCorkle. “In this fine novel, her many talents come together.”

The novel includes blurbs by NC Literary Hall of Fame inductee Lee Smith; and authors Aimee Bender and Kevin Wilson.

“Not to be missed,” says Shelf Awareness. “A rare combination of silliness and poignancy, with momentum and compassion…This is a novel of keen comedy, insight, and empathy.”

For the full list of Spring 2019 Okra picks, click here.

Self-Published with Representation: A Duality that Just Makes Sense (Part II)

By Denise Heinze

Denise Heinze, with cat, Karma

In Part I of “Self-Published with Representation: A Duality that Just Makes Sense,” Denise Heinze explains why she choose to seek out an agent as a self-published author and how that decision led not only to representation but a traditional publishing contract for her second novel.


After signing with my agent, I proclaimed, “This is it!”

My cat, Karma, perched nearby, yawned—prophetically, as it turns out. I had no idea then how far away from “it” I really was. Still, I’d reached a milestone. I was tempted to chuck the entire self-publishing venture, to abandon Sally St. Johns like a bad mother. But once the euphoria passed, a sort of primal instinct kicked in. I was proud of that work and of what I had put into it. Instead of ditching it, I vowed to nurture it.

In retrospect, it was a smart move.

A month passed, during which my agent prepared while I revised. Satisfied with the final product and the plan, she sent out the manuscript. Three and a half months later, an offer arrived, and, another month after that, I accepted. In old-school publishing time, this is a pretty quick turnaround; nevertheless, the entire process from signing to offer consumed nearly half a year. And that was just the beginning.

Soon enough I learned that while self-publishing operates like the high-speed Eurostar, traditional publishing is more akin to the Orient Express.

After I accepted the offer, it took a nail-biting, white-knuckling three months of back and forth to finalize the contract. Then came an intense six weeks of revision, followed by a conference call with the marketing and sales folks, and a tentative release date. And I haven’t even gotten to the copy-editing and cover design phases. All told, from initial offer to launch, the entire journey will take up to two years.

Meanwhile, a self-published novel can arrive on digital platforms in an afternoon.

There are obvious chutes and ladders to both modes of publishing, delineated in a glut of articles and books aimed at aspiring writers. My good fortune as an indie, and now soon-to-be traditionally published novelist, is that I don’t have to choose.

With one novel on the shelves and another on the way, I have two exciting ventures. The first I’m entirely responsible for; the second is closely monitored by a dogged agent and comes with a crack team. What I learn about writing and publishing from each vantage point automatically informs the other. The meticulous feedback of a first-rate editor, courtesy of my traditional publisher, is the mother lode to a writer.

Nabbing a slot as a featured title with a book club, as I was able to do with Sally St. Johns, is also precious metal. A rousing give and take with fellow lovers of literature, the book club gig was a welcome respite from the often agonizing wait time between stages of traditional publishing. It was also a splendid opportunity to promote my current novel and create buzz for the upcoming one. After reading what I hoped was a tantalizing excerpt from my work-in-progress, one woman screeched, “You’re just going to leave us hanging?”

My paean to self-publishing aside, I am punch-drunk happy to be wrapped in the warm embrace of a traditional publisher. It is, still, the gold standard for many aspiring writers. And yet, there is everything to be said for taking the leap of faith in yourself when no one else will.

In Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon, Milkman, facing off against his would-be assassin, literally takes such a leap. Milkman knows that his plunge may be fatal, but he doesn’t care because he has arrived at a liberating truth, that “If you surrendered to the air, you could ride it.”


DENISE HEINZE’s historical fiction debut, The Brief and True Report of Temperance Flowerdew, will be published in 2020.

NC Author Among PEN/Faulkner Finalists

The finalists for the 2019 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction have been announced, representing new and established fiction writers, American citizens all, taking on the challenges of our modern culture.

The winner of the 2019 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction will be announced on April 29, 2019. The winner receives $15,000.

Whitsett resident Ivelisse Rodriguez is the author of Love War Stories, a short-story collection. This full-length debut recieved blurbs from authors such as Junot Diaz and Patricia Engel. Born in Arecibo, Puerto Rico, Rodriguez is a Kimbilio fellow and a VONA/Voices alum.

The finalists are:

Tomb of the Unknown Racist by Blanche McCrary Boyd (Counterpoint Press)
Tomb of the Unknown Racist is a thrilling novel set in the shadow of the Oklahoma City bombing, the subculture of white supremacy, and deep state government. A family drama set against political and racial struggle, it is a tour de force end to a trilogy by a stunning writer whose work has offered a resonant survey of politics and activism across the American experience.



The Overstory by Richard Powers (Norton)
A monumental novel about trees people by one of our most “prodigiously talented” (The New York Times Book Review) novelists. Shortlisted for the 2018 Man Booker Prize, it is also a New York Times Notable, Washington Post, Time, Oprah Magazine, Newsweek, Chicago Tribune, and Kirkus Reviews Best Book of 2018.




Love War Stories by Ivelisse Rodriguez (The Feminist Press at CUNY)
Puerto Rican girls are brought up to want one thing: true love. Yet they are raised by women whose lives are marked by broken promises, grief, and betrayal. While some believe that they’ll be the ones to finally make it work, others swear not to repeat cycles of violence. This collection documents how these “love wars” break out across generations as individuals find themselves caught in the crosshairs of romance, expectations, and community.



Call Me Zebra by Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi (Mariner)
An adventure tale, a love story, and a paean to the power of language and literature starring a heroine as quirky as Don Quixote, as introspective as Virginia Woolf, as whip-smart as Miranda July, and as spirited as Frances Ha, Call Me Zebra will establish Van der Vliet Oloomi as an author “on the verge of developing a whole new literature movement” (Bustle).




Don’t Skip Out on Me by Willy Vlautin (Harper Perennial)
From award-winning author Willy Vlautin, comes this moving novel about a young ranch hand who goes on a quest to become a champion boxer to prove his worth.





These titles are available wherever books are sold, including your local bookstore.

For more information about the PEN/Faulkner Foundation, including past winners, click here.

Nominate a Deserving Writer for NC Award in Literature

Michael McFee

The North Carolina Awards are open for nominations through April 15.

The North Carolina Awards are the highest civilian honor bestowed by the state. Facilitated by the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, the awards recognize leaders in Fine Arts, Public Service, Science, and Literature.

Last year’s winner in Literature was poet and essayist Michael McFee, who will give the Keynote Address at the North Carolina Writers’ Network 2019 Spring Conference on Saturday, April 27, at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. McFee is a longtime professor in the Creative Writing Program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Past winners of the NC Award in Literature also include North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame inductees Betty Adcock, Jaki Shelton Green (also the current NC poet laureate), Paul Green, Randall Kenan, Lee Smith, Shelby Stephenson (former NC poet laureate), and many more.

Nominations are accepted online here.

Or, submit via mail.

Awards recipients are chosen by the North Carolina Awards Committee, a selection committee of five (5) members appointed by the Governor. The Committee reviews the nominations and may select one or more nominees in each of the four (4) categories. At the Committee’s discretion, a nominee may be moved to a different category than originally nominated. Factors considered in the selection process include:

  • Span and scope of career
  • Voluntary public service
  • Legacy of work
  • Current projects
  • Awards and honors

Winners will be announced in the late summer or early fall.

For more information, visit

New Poetry Award Honors Poet Who Savored Every Moment

Nina Riggs

We’re thrilled to welcome Cave Wall as a first-time exhibitor at the NCWN 2019 Spring Conference on Saturday, April 27, at UNCG.

Cave Wall, based in North Carolina, is a “national literary magazine dedicated to publishing the best in contemporary poetry…interested in poems of any length and style from both established and emerging poets.”

They’ve also launched a new award: The Nina Riggs Poetry Award.

This award was established in memory of the late Nina Riggs, author of the poetry chapbook, Lucky, Lucky, and the memoir, The Bright Hour:

Each year, Cave Wall will award at least one poet for the finest writing that examines relationships, family, or domestic life. We will be looking for poems published in journals and books during the previous three years. Each winner will receive at least $500 and, if funding permits, will be invited to give a reading in Greensboro, NC, Nina Riggs’s hometown.

To submit to the award, click here.

This award is a crowd-funded award. The Nina Riggs Poetry Foundation is actively seeking contributions through June 18, 2019. All donations are tax-deductible.

For more information, and to donate, click here.

Nina Riggs “knew how to savor every moment, to examine at close range the precariousness of life…(exploring) the poignancy and love that resonate in the details of every day.”

Consider submitting to the inaugural Nina Riggs Poetry Award; more over, consider donating to the Nina Riggs Poetry Foundation. Help Cave Wall honor those poets who illuminate the beauty of the everyday, for years to come.

Five Baseball Novels for the “First” Day of Baseball Season

Today offers the first full day of Major League Baseball in the 2019 season; all thirty teams play today.

Because more than one of our staff members have a “baseball problem,” we thought we’d share five favorite baseball novels:


If I Never Get Back by Darryl Brock.
A contemporary newspaper reporter stuck in a dead-end post finds himself transported to Cincinnati, Ohio, in the summer of 1869, where he falls in with the nation’s first pro baseball players—the Cincinnati Red Legs—and discovers the life he’d always been meant to lead.




Keystone Kids by John R. Tunis.
Tunis’ Keystone Kids series follows two brothers who join the Brooklyn Dodgers in the 1940s. Part of an entire series centered around the team, it’s written for young people but addresses serious themes of race, friendship, and overcoming obstacles, and written well enough to appeal to adult readers.




The Year the Yankees Lost the Pennant by Douglass Wallop.
The basis for the Broadway musical Damn Yankees, this book features a middle-age man in decline who swings a deal with Satan and becomes an All-Star outfielder for his beloved Washington Senators. A fantasy? Sure. But the characters are terrific, the moral dilemas real, and hey, everybody is allowed a chance to close their eyes and dream a little. Plus, whatever  Lola wants, Lola gets….



The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach.
This New York Times bestseller was shortlisted for the Guardian First Book Award in 2012. It tells the tender story of slick-fielding college shortstop Henry Skrimshander, the challenges faced by his gay roommate and teammate Owen, and the many choices we make in the face of family and career as we reach all reach for better futures.




Shoeless Joe by W.P. Kinsella.
The basis for the movie Field of Dreams, this novel features a man who hears a voice in a cornfield and builds a ballpark in hopes of attracting the 1918 Chicago White Sox, the “Black Sox” team that infamously threw the 1918 World Series, and especially its most famous play, “Shoeless” Joe Jackson. A mid-novel roadtrip includes a visit to the famously reclusive author J.D. Salinger.

NC Poet Tyree Daye Wins Whiting Award

Tyree Daye

North Carolina poet Tyree Daye is one of ten recipients of a 2019 Whiting Award, given annually by the Whiting Foundation.

Daye, who hails from Youngsville, receives $50,000.

This year’s recipients are a mix of poets, playwrights and prose writers, some not yet published, some with a handful of works out. Winners include Daye;  poets Vanessa Angelica Villarreal, Kayleb Rae Candrilli, and nonfiction writers Terese Marie Mailhot and Nadia Owusu. Others honored were fiction writers Nafissa Thompson-Spires and Merritt Tierce and playwrights Lauren Yee and Michael R. Jackson, who said the Whiting would help him focus on the production of A Strange Loop, premiering in May at Playwrights Horizons in Times Square.

Tyree Daye is the author of two poetry collections, River Hymns (2017 APR/Honickman First Book Prize winner) and Cardinal, forthcoming from Copper Canyon Press (2020). Daye is a 2017 Ruth Lilly Finalist and Cave Canem fellow. Daye’s work has been published in Prairie Schooner, The New York Times, Nashville Review. Daye won the 2019 Palm Beach Poetry Festival Langston Hughes Fellowship, the 2019 Diana and Simon Raab Writers-In- Residence, and is a 2019 Kate Tufts Finalist.

Since 1985, the Foundation has supported creative writing through the Whiting Awards, which are given annually to ten emerging writers in fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and drama. The awards, of $50,000 each, are based on early accomplishment and the promise of great work to come. The Foundation does not accept applications or unsolicited nominations.

Past winners include Hannah Dela Cruz Abrams, Charles D’Ambrosio, Tony Kushner, and Andrew X. Pham.

For more information, visit