White Cross School Blog


NC Literary Hall of Fame




NORTH CAROLINA—Chapel Hill writer Laura Herbst won top honors in the 2014 Rose Post Creative Nonfiction Competition for her essay “Breast Cancer: A Love Story.”

Author Hannah Dela Cruz Abrams, the judge of this year’s contest, said, “I found ‘Breast Cancer: A Love Story’ an elegy for the body that reminds us of how our very identities are tangled up in painful physicalities. The writer sketches for us her own architecture and where in its design she has discovered fault lines and fulcra.

“In the end, the essay demonstrates that the barricades most difficult to break down are interior and intensely private. It reveals the unceasing struggle to countermand the secrets that, in becoming manifest, threaten to expose—as the writer acknowledges—the core of us.”

After being diagnosed with breast cancer, Herbst left her job teaching news writing at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to write what she calls “soulful women's stories.” She is at work on a novel, set among village women in West Africa, where she once lived. Her fiction has appeared in The Sun magazine, and her nonfiction in The New York Times, the News and Observer in Raleigh and Indy Week (for which she received an investigative reporting award from the North Carolina Press Association last year).

Sponsored by the North Carolina Writers’ Network and administered by the creative writing department at UNC-Wilmington, the Rose Post Creative Nonfiction Competition encourages the creation of lasting nonfiction work that is outside the realm of conventional journalism. The contest is open to any legal resident of North Carolina or member of NCWN. First-, second-, and third-place winners receive $1,000, $300, and $200, respectively, and the winning entry is considered for publication in the magazine Southern Cultures.

Jason Hess of Wilmington won second place for his essay “The Adopted Person.” Hess, a native of Scappoose, Oregon, holds a BA in Spanish and English from the University of Idaho, and has lived in Costa Rica, Idaho, Spain, and now North Carolina.

“The essayist has a compelling voice that nimbly moves from humor to grief, all the while pursuing labyrinthine questions concerning origins, family, and isolation,” Abrams said.

Chapel Hill’s Joanna Catherine Scott won third place for her essay “How I Went to Adult Prison as a Child,” based on interviews with a prisoner in Central Prison.

“‘How I Went to Adult Prison as a Child’ is essay as reportage, documentary, a lone lens trained on a subject with the writer vanished,” Abrams said. “The strength of the piece is perhaps in this stepping back of the author, so the voice of imprisoned can have the space necessary to testify.”

Scott is the author of the novels Child of the South, The Road from Chapel Hill, The Lucky Gourd Shop, Charlie: a novel of war, and Cassandra, Lost; the nonfiction Indochina's Refugees: Oral Histories from Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam; and the prize-winning poetry collections An Innocent in the House of the Dead, Breakfast at the Shangri-la, Fainting at the Uffizi, and Night Huntress. A graduate of the University of Adelaide and Duke University, Joanna was born in England, raised in Australia, and now lives in Chapel Hill.

Abrams won the 2013 Whiting Writers’ Award of $50,000, one of the richest prizes in American literature, for her novella The Man Who Danced with Dolls. She holds an MFA (’07) from UNC-Wilmington, where she now teaches in the English Department. She is the recipient of a North Carolina Arts Council Fellowship, a Rona Jaffe Writer’s Award, a Hartshook Fellowship, and a Byington Award. Born on Guam, Abrams is currently at work on her memoir, The Following Sea, about growing up on a cutter that made port throughout the South Pacific.


NORTH CAROLINA—The announcement of this year’s inductees into the North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame will bring to a close the 2014 North Carolina Literary Festival on Sunday, April 6.

The announcement and subsequent panel discussion, scheduled for 5:00 pm in the Multipurpose Room of the James B. Hunt Jr. Library, will be the grand finale of the four-day-long celebration of past, present, and future of the written word.

Four North Carolina writers will be inducted into the NCLHOF in a ceremony on Sunday, October 12, at the Weymouth Center for the Arts & Humanities in Southern Pines. They will join the fifty-three inductees currently enshrined. Inductions are held every other year; the 2012 inductees were Maya Angelou, Kathryn Stripling Byer, and John Lawson.

A list of inductees, as well as samples of their work and video clips of past inductions, can be found online at

“This is a fitting time and place to announce the 2014 inductees,” said Ed Southern, the executive director of the North Carolina Writers’ Network, which oversees the NCLHOF. “The festival’s theme is ‘The Future of Reading,’and it’s proper to honor the past when you’re examining the future. We’re excited to honor these writers.”

The North Carolina Literary Festival will take place April 3–6 at the James B. Hunt Jr. Library on the Centennial Campus of North Carolina State University. Participating authors will include current NCLHOF inductees Allan Gurganus, Lee Smith, and Elizabeth Spencer, as well as NCWN members Kim Church, Angela Davis-Gardner, Jaki Shelton Green, Marjorie Hudson, Scott Huler, Zelda Lockhart, Kelly Starling Lyons, Jill McCorkle, Sheila Smith McKoy, Elaine Neil Orr, Drew Perry, and Stephanie Powell Watts.

The North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame 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 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.


GREENSBORO, NC—Poets who attend the North Carolina Writers' Network 2014 Spring Conference will have the chance to sign up for two poetry workshops led by award-winning North Carolina writers.

Spring Conference happens Saturday, April 12, at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and the poetry workshops will focus on particular, nuts and bolts elements of the craft that will teach registrants how to turn their abstract bursts of inspiration into effective, uncluttered lines of poetry. Registration is now open.

During the morning session, Mark Smith-Soto will lead a poetry workshop, "Anchoring the Emotion." T.S. Eliot taught that emotion in poetry must find expression in an “objective correlative”—a sensory experience that will evoke the desired feeling in the reader rather than simply describe it. Naming or describing an emotion, and making others experience it as we feel it, are totally different things, and a failure to understand that difference can undermine a poem’s effectiveness. In this workshop, we will work on techniques useful in “anchoring” an abstract notion to the heart of a poem so as to make it shareable with others.

In the afternoon, poet John Thomas York will lead the workshop "Infinite Particulars and the Worlds They Make: Choosing Detail in Poetry." Ever had trouble generating detail, choosing detail (or letting the images choose you), or deciding when it's time to do some serious de-cluttering? Come join a craft talk, discussing strategies (some like cockleburs, some like fairy dust) offered by the leader after his long walks in literary fields. Bring a poem to share.

Mark Smith-Soto is Professor of Spanish and editor of International Poetry Review at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. He has published three prize-winning chapbooks and two full-length poetry collections. He has twice been nominated for a Puschart Prize and won an NEA Fellowship in Creative Writing in 2006.

John Thomas York grew up in Yadkin County in northwestern North Carolina. He has four poetry collections, including Cold Spring Rising, published by Press 53 in 2012. In 2011, he won the first annual James Applewhite Poetry Prize from North Carolina Literary Review.

The nonprofit North Carolina Writers’ Network is the state’s oldest and largest literary arts services organization devoted to writers at all stages of development. For additional information, visit


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