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NC Literary Hall of Fame

 

 

 

Southern Pines, NC—The North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame will induct five of the state’s finest writers this Sunday.

Journalist W. J. Cash; novelist Allan Gurganus; poet, novelist, and biographer Robert Morgan; journalist, publisher, and diplomat Walter Hines Page; and playwright and screenwriter Samm-Art Williams will be enshrined at 2 p.m., Sunday, October 17, at a ceremony at the Weymouth Center for the Arts and Humanities in Southern Pines, where the NCLHOF is housed.

The ceremony is free and open to the public.

Wilbur J. Cash was born in Gaffney, SC, in 1900 and moved to Boiling Springs in 1912. After graduating from Wake Forest College in 1922, Cash worked intermittently as a journalist for several newspapers, including the Charlotte Observer and Charlotte News, and as a freelance writer for magazines such as H. L. Mencken’s American Mercury. In 1941 he published his masterpiece, The Mind of the South, described as “by common consent a classic work of history and social criticism” by George B. Tindall, who wrote Cash’s entry in the Dictionary of North Carolina Biography. Cash died just a few months after The Mind of the South appeared.

Allan Gurganus’s first novel, Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All, spent eight months on the New York Times best-seller list, has sold more than two million copies and been translated into twelve languages, and was made into a CBS movie starring Diane Lane, Donald Sutherland, and Cecily Tyson. Born in Rocky Mount in 1947, Gurganus studied as a painter and served in the U.S. Navy before turning to writing. His work has appeared in the New Yorker, Harper’s, O’Henry Prize Stories, Best American Stories, The Norton Anthology of Short Fiction, and Best New Stories of the South. His other books include The Practical Heart, Plays Well With Others, and White People, which won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize.

Robert Morgan grew up in the Green River valley of western North Carolina, near Hendersonville, on a farm that has been in Morgan’s family since the 1700s. He decided to become a writer while studying engineering and applied mathematics at North Carolina State University, transferred to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to receive his degree in English, and later earned a master of fine arts degree from UNC Greensboro. Morgan has published more than twenty-five books of poetry and fiction, in addition to a 2007 biography of Daniel Boone. His novel Gap Creek won the 2000 Southern Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction and was an Oprah’s Book Club selection. His most recent book is October Crossing, a poetry collection.

Walter Hines Page was born in 1855 in what would become Cary. After studying at Trinity College (now Duke University), Randolph-Macon College, and Johns Hopkins University, he began his career in journalism at a small newspaper in St. Joseph, MO; within four years, he had worked for the New York World and moved on to found his own newspaper, the State Chronicle, in Raleigh. In 1885 he turned the State Chronicle over to Josephus Daniels and returned to the Northeast, where he worked as an editor of both magazines and books, including the Atlantic Monthly and Houghton, Mifflin, and Company. In 1899 he cofounded the publisher Doubleday, Page, and Company (now Doubleday Publishing, an imprint of Random House), where he worked with authors such as Ellen Glasgow and Booker T. Washington. President Woodrow Wilson named Page to be the nation’s ambassador to the Court of St. James in London in 1913. Page died in Pinehurst in 1918.

Samm-Art Williams was born in Philadelphia and grew up in Burgaw. After graduating from Morgan State College in Baltimore, he studied with the Freedom Theater's Acting Workshop in Philadelphia under the direction of John Allen and Bob Leslie. As a member of the Negro Ensemble Company, he performed in such plays as The First Breeze of Summer, Eden, and Nevis Mountain Dew. He also wrote many plays, including Home,which received a Tony nomination in the category of best Broadway play and toured internationally. He had a lucrative career in television, where he took on roles as an actor, a writer, and executive producer for popular shows such as Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and Martin. He has been nominated for two Emmy awards.

The NCLHOF 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 have collaborated with the North Carolina Center for the Book, the North Carolina Humanities Council, and the 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.

Fred ChappellGreensboro, NC—Fred Chappell, described as North Carolina’s “resident genius,” will deliver the keynote address at the 2010 North Carolina Writers’ Network Spring Conference, which takes place Saturday, April 24, from 8:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. in the Elliott University Center at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

The annual event, cosponsored by UNCG’s Center for Creative Writing in the Arts, draws writers from across North Carolina and beyond for intensive workshops in fiction, creative nonfiction, playwriting, poetry, and publishing, led by distinguished writing faculty. This year’s conference will also feature a Publishing Panel with book and journal editors, a Faculty Reading, an Open Mike Reading for conference attendees, and “Lunch with an Author,” in which attendees share lunch and personal conversation with one of the authors on the faculty.

In 2004, Fred Chappell retired after 40 years in the UNCG English department. During this time he published 26 books of poetry, fiction, and critical commentary. His awards include the Sir Walter Raleigh Prize, the North Carolina Award in Literature, the T. S. Eliot Prize, the Bollingen Prize in Poetry, eight Roanoke-Chowan Poetry Awards, the Prix de Meilleur des Livres Etrangers (Best Foreign Book Prize) from the Academie Francaise, the Mihai Eminescu Medal from the Republic of Moldova, and the Thomas Wolfe Prize. He was inducted into the North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame in 2006. He served as North Carolina’s Poet Laureate from 1997 until 2002. His latest book of poetry is Shadow Box, published in 2009 by LSU Press. His latest work of fiction, Ancestors and Others: New and Selected Stories, was published last year by St. Martin’s Press. He lives with his wife, Susan, in Greensboro.

Conference participants may select from a variety of half- and full-day workshops, including “Inspiration Station,” a poetry workshop with poet and Asheville Poetry Review editor Keith Flynn; “Gimme a Break: Breaking Into Nonfiction Publishing,” with author and publisher Malcolm Campbell; “The Morning After: Reclaiming Your Life as a Writer” with NC State University professor Sheila Smith McKoy; “The North Carolina Screenwriter, and Screenwriter as Filmmaker” with Nathan Ross Freeman, the director of the award-winning feature film Mr. Bones; and “The Greatest Writing Prompt Ever” with poet Scott Owens.

Other instructors include Holly Goddard Jones, Chris Roerden, and John McNally on fiction, and Cynthia Nearman and NCWN executive director Ed Southern on nonfiction.

Registration for the conference—made possible with support from UNC Greensboro and the North Carolina Arts Council—is $99 for Network members, $150 for nonmembers.

To register, call 919-251-9140 for more information.


 

NORTH CAROLINA—Final judge Sheri Reynolds, best-selling author of five novels, named Paul Byall of Savannah, Georgia, the winner of the 2010 Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize for his story “Sequestered.” Reynolds said of this story, whose main character, Maggie, finds herself sequestered as a jury member at a murder trial, “This writer brilliantly controls the story’s tempo, moving between scene and summary, between details of the murder and the trial itself. The story is controlled, complicated, and graceful.” Byall will receive $1,000 from the NC Writers’ Network and possible publication in the Thomas Wolfe Review.

Paul Byall was raised in Ohio and studied at Miami University (Ohio) and the University of California. He is the 2008 recipient of the New South Short Story Award and has been a finalist for numerous fiction awards. His first published story, written while a student at the University of California, was selected as one of the one hundred distinguished stories of the year by The Best American Short Stories anthology. He currently lives and writes in Savannah, where he has recently completed a novel, Salvation’s Fire.

Reynolds also selected two honorable mentions: “Official Business” by Mark Connelly of Madison, Wisconsin, and “Burial Ground” by Tracy Knight of Raleigh, North Carolina. Of “Official Business” Reynolds wrote, “Set in post-war Poland, this story follows a single day in the life of a doctor and researcher who is relieved of his duties and taken into custody by the government. In prose both spare and vivid, this writer provides a snapshot of place, time, and politics through a very compelling character.”

And of Knight’s story Reynolds said, “In ‘Burial Ground’ an eleven-year-old watches her brother struggle to bury a beloved dead cat. The narrative voice here is lush, poetic, mysterious, insightful—and still believable. I love the visionary quality of the writing.”

Both Connelly and Knight are experienced fiction writers. Connelly has an MA in creative writing and a PhD in English from the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee. His fiction has appeared in numerous journals and his novella, Fifteen Minutes,received the 2004 Clay Reynolds Novella Prize from Texas Review Press. Knight is a native North Carolinian, who lives and works in Raleigh. Two of her stories were selected in 2008 as finalists for the Reynolds Price Short Fiction Award sponsored by the Salem College Center for Women Writers. She has a BA in English from Meredith College and has studied fiction writing at North Carolina State University.

Final judge Sheri Reynolds is the author of five novels, the most famous of which, The Rapture of Canaan,was an Oprah’s Book Club selection and New York Times bestseller in 1997. Her most recent novel is The Sweet In-Between (2008). She is a graduate of Davidson College and Virginia Commonwealth University. She teaches creative writing and literature classes at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia, where she won the Outstanding Faculty Award from the State Council for Higher Education of Virginia in 2003.

Preliminary judge, David Radavich of Charlotte, North Carolina, also named six finalists, whose stories were read by Reynolds: “The Changeling” and “Let Us Plough, Let Us Build” both by Mark Connelly; “The Once and Missing Captain of Commerce” by Rodney Nelsestuen of Woodbury, Minnesota; “Rainbow” by Gary Powell of Cornelius, North Carolina; “Brea’s Tale” by Karen Pullen of Pittsboro, North Carolina; and “Lying” by Allen Smith of Alexandria, Virginia.

The nonprofit North Carolina Writers’ Network is our state’s oldest and largest literary arts services organization devoted to writers at all stages of development. For additional information, visit http://www.ncwriters.org.

 
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