White Cross School Blog


NC Literary Hall of Fame




Originally from Greenwood, SC, Scott Owens holds degrees from Ohio University, UNC Charlotte, and UNC Greensboro. He currently lives in Hickory, where he teaches at Catawba Valley Community College, edits Wild Goose Poetry Review, owns and operates Taste Full Beans Coffeehouse and Gallery, and serves as vice-president of the NC Poetry Society, Regional Representative of NCWN, and Coordinator of Poetry Hickory. His twelfth book of poetry, To, is scheduled for release by Main Street Rag in early November. His work has received awards from the Academy of American Poets, the Pushcart Prize Anthology, the Next Generation/Indie Lit Awards, the NC Writers' Network, the NC Poetry Society, and the Poetry Society of SC.

At the North Carolina Writers' Network 2014 Fall Conference, Scott will join the panel discussion "Creating a Poetry Community" along with Jonathan K. Rice. As romantic (and Romantic) as the image of the solitary poet may be, the reality is that most poets need to be part of a community. A poetry community can help its members hone their craft, find their muse, take advantage of opportunities, and overcome the discouragements that all writers face. Scott Owens and Jonathan K. Rice have spent years building poetry communities through magazines, readings, open mics, and more. They will talk about their experiences, answer your questions, and share tips on how to come together with your fellow poets.

Register now!


If you could be a different author, living or dead, who would you be?
Too complex a question. If you mean temporarily, then I would take just about anyone, the more different, the better, just to experience something else. If you mean permanently, then no one; I like my life.

Give us three adjectives you hope critics use to describe your next book.
Relevant, accessible, necessary.

What’s one piece of advice no one gave you when you were starting out, that you wish they had?
Never stop being amazed at it all.

In 2013, Forbes named Charlotte among its list of Best Places for Business and Careers. What makes Charlotte such a vibrant place to visit and live?
Diversity. Old and new. Southern and Northern. Tradition and Innovation. All in one place.

Why do you feel it's important for writers to attend conferences such as the NCWN Fall Conference?
Networking, networking, networking. Many of my most important connections were initially made at NCWN conferences.

Saturday's "Brilliant at Breakfast" panel discussion is titled, "Words in Civic Life." Does creative writing have a role to play outside the covers of a book?
Absolutely! The creative use of language is an essential element of perception and the processing of perception. It's how we conceptualize, contemplate, contextualize, and interpret the perceptions upon which we base all of our decisions, beliefs, and motivations. Or at least, it's what we should be using for that process rather than blind obedience.

What do you hope attendees takeaway from the conference, especially if they sign up for your workshop, panel, or Mart?
An understanding of just how easy and valuable it is to participate in or even initiate opportunities to learn, create, and share.

What does it mean for writers to "Network?" Any tips?
Networking is establishing contacts that can help writers develop their ideas and craft, and create media for sharing their creations with interested audiences as well as audiences that didn't know they should be interested.

If you could mandate that everyone in the world read one book, which one would you choose?
Galway Kinnell's Book of Nightmares.

Do you read literary journals? What are some of your favorites?
Yes. South Carolina Review, Main Street Rag, Iodine, Chattahoochee Review, Raleigh Review, Asheville Poetry Review. Too many to name them all.

Can writing be taught?
Of course. Or perhaps "coached" is a better work. If students have the motivation and willingness to work, their writing can definitely be improved.

Who has influenced your writing style the most?
Another long list including Galway Kinnell, Tim Peeler, Walt Whitman, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Robert Frost, Yannis Ritsos, CP Cavafy, Yehuda Amichai, etc.

Have you ever had writer’s block? What is one thing that helped you overcome it?
I don't really believe in writer's block. I think what people call writer's block is usually judging one's writing before it's ready to be judged, resulting in a stifling of creativity.

Someone writes an un-authorized biography about your life. What would the title be?


The North Carolina Writers' Network 2014 Fall Conference runs November 21-23 at the Sheraton Charlotte Hotel, in Charlotte. Registration is now open.


Born and raised in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Sarah Creech grew up in a house full of women who told stories about black cloud visions and other premonitions. Her work has appeared in storySouth, Literary Mama, Aroostook Review, Glass, and as a finalist for Glimmer Train. She received an MFA from McNeese State University in 2008 and now teaches English and creative writing at Queens University of Charlotte. She currently lives in North Carolina with her two children and her husband, a poet. Season of the Dragonflies is her first novel.

At the North Carolina Writers' Network 2014 Fall Conference, Sarah will lead the workshop "First Impressions in the First Few Pages." The famed writers of the Toy Story movies, creators of the endearing toy Woody, knew they wanted his character to end at a place of selflessness. To do so, they thought he needed to start from a place of pure selfishness. The only problem? The audience couldn’t connect with Woody. He had to be rewritten and made into the character we find in the Pixar films today. The beginning of any short story or novel (or screenplay) requires that the audience care about the main character. Characters don’t have to be lovable, but their problems must feel real, with a need for a solution. How do writers create characters an audience cares about? In this workshop, participants will review examples of how professional fiction writers pull this off in the first few pages of a novel or short story. Participants will have an in-class writing exercise to practice creating characters that connect with an audience in the first few pages.

Register now!


What are you reading right now?
To Rise Again at a Decent Hour by Joshua Ferris.

Where is your favorite place to write?
My office at home surrounded by four walls painted a sea blue color called “Cool Jazz.” How does one land a job naming paint colors?

If you weren't a writer, what kind of job would you like to have?
Naming paint colors.

Who has influenced your writing style the most?
Fitzgerald, Virginia Woolf, Colette, Tolstoy.

If you could switch places with one fictional character, who would it be?
Daisy Buchanan.

What do you hope attendees takeaway from Fall Conference, especially if they sign up for your workshop, panel, or Mart?
An urgent need to sit down and read.

Charlotte is known as both "The Queen City" and "The Hornet's Nest." Does one of those nicknames ring more true for you than the other?
Queen City. At turns fancy and fickle.

Sunday's "Brilliant at Breakfast" panel discussion is titled, "The Many Paths to Publication." What's the first thing you ever published?
A poem I wrote on an envelope in a Civil War cemetery in Virginia. I left it on an unmarked grave. A groundskeeper found the poem and the cemetery board decided to make a plaque for it. It’ll be in that graveyard long after I’m dead.

Give us three adjectives you hope critics use to describe your next book.
Unexpected, ambitious, entertaining.

What is the most frustrating or rewarding part of the writing process?
Most frustrating: doubting my choices. Most rewarding: affirmation about said choices.

What’s one piece of advice no one gave you when you were starting out, that you wish they had?
This is (at the minimum) a ten-year apprenticeship.

If you could mandate that everyone in the world read one book, which one would you choose?
Anna Karenina.

Describe your ideal literary festival. Who would give the keynote address? Who would be the featured readers? What else?
I’d rather describe my ideal party for after the readings: Junot Diaz starts the dance party, and just as I’m about to join the fun, Zadie Smith cuts in and says “Sarah, let’s have a drink together and I’ll explain how I became such a brilliant novelist at such a young age. By listening to me this wisdom will rub off on you.” Then Haruki Murakami will come over and say, “Sarah, don’t listen to that. All you need to do is run thirty miles a day. I swear by it. Now I’m going to bed. I wake up with the sunrise each and every day. No time for late parties. Take it from me, that’s the secret to great writing.” Joshua Ferris will tell jokes in the corner surrounded by people who are mesmerized by his pretty blue eyes. Toni Morrison’s laughter will hover over the room. Cormac McCarthy will dance beside Junot Diaz. The poet Mark Strand will tell us all when it is time to go to bed.

Do you steal hotel pens?
No, but I do steal extra samples at Harris Teeter.


The North Carolina Writers' Network 2014 Fall Conference runs November 21-23 at the Sheraton Charlotte Hotel, in Charlotte. Registration is now open.


SOUTHERN PINES, NC—The Weymouth Center for the Arts & Humanities in Southern Pines houses the North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame, a living celebration of the state’s rich literary heritage. Fifty-three authors have been inducted into the Hall of Fame since its founding in 1996.

On Sunday, October 12, at 2:00 pm, four poets will join them: Betty Adcock, Ronald H. Bayes, Jaki Shelton Green, and Shelby Stephenson. Hailing from Raleigh, Mebane, Laurinburg, and Benson respectively, their varied backgrounds paint a vivid picture of North Carolina literature past, present, and future.

Sunday’s ceremony will include readings by North Carolina’s seventh poet laureate Joseph Bathanti, plus Barbara Braveboy-Locklear, Teresa Church, Nora Shepard, and more. J. Peder Zane will serve as Master of Ceremonies, and the exhibit hall will host several North Carolina literary organizations. The Country Bookshop, located in Southern Pines, will be on hand to sell books by the inductees.

To learn more about the Hall of Fame, and the 2012 inductees, watch this video, courtesy of Beth-Ann Kutchma and Chasing the Mad Lion Productions.

For the purposes of induction into the North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame, a North Carolina writer is defined as one who is:

  • significantly shaped by his or her time in the state, and/or
  • identified in the public’s mind as a North Carolinian and/or
  • self-identified as a North Carolinian.

Writers selected for induction into the North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame meet the following criteria:

  • the writer is acclaimed nationally or internationally;
  • the quality of the work is exemplary;
  • the writer has influenced the development and appreciation of literature in North Carolina; and
  • the writer has achieved a formative and significant place in the annals of North Carolina literature.

“I am very honored and humbled that my peers, that my legacy of service to the state, that my legacy of trying to have good practices and trying to have literary excellence is recognized,” Jaki Shelton Green said in a recent interview, “that it matters.”

Largely self-educated—she has no degrees—Betty Adcock was Writer in Residence at Meredith College in Raleigh, where she taught until 2006 and twice held the Mary Lynch Johnson Professorship. She is the author of six poetry collections and the recipient of two Pushcart Prizes, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and the North Carolina Medal for Literature, among many other honors and awards.

Ronald H. Bayes is the Writer-in-Residence and Distinguished Professor of Creative Writing Emeritus at St. Andrews University in Laurinburg. His collection Greatest Hits 1960-2002 was published by Pudding House Publications in 2003, following Chainsong for the Muse (Northern Lights Press, 1993).

Jaki Shelton Green is a writer and activist. She received the North Carolina Award for Poetry in 2003. She has published four books of poetry through Carolina Wren Press. She was the 2009 Piedmont Laureate.

Shelby Stephenson has published many collections of poems. He is the former editor of Pembroke Magazine. His Family Matters: Homage to July, the Slave Girl won the 2008 Bellday Poetry Prize. His website is

The North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame 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, 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.

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