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WILMINGTON—Three North Carolinians, Network members all, took top honors in the 2018 Rose Post Creative Nonfiction Competition.

Elaine Thomas of Wilmington won First Prize for her essay “Upper Outer Quadrant.” Thomas will receive $1,000, and Ecotone will consider her essay for publication.

“‘Upper Outer Quadrant’ is stylish, observant, and thoughtful, a consideration of the human relationships that both cause and result from language—by which I mean all of them,” said final judge Benjamin Rachlin, author of the new book Ghost of the Innocent Man. “The essay moves readers to consider more deeply a vocabulary that most of us take for granted.

“Take for granted—a curious idiom, it occurs to me now,” Rachlin said. “To grant, meaning: to acknowledge as true. But also, to grant, meaning: to give as a gift. To take for granted. You can see what this essay has done to me. It’s an essay that squints carefully at words, that lifts each one and holds it to the ear, like a found seashell. It’s an essay that examines itself even as it unfolds, that—to borrow a phrase—makes ‘intimate strangers’ of us all.”

Thomas, a North Carolina native, has had a career that spans journalism, technical writing, and higher education communications as well as hospital chaplaincy. She directed college communications offices and edited alumni magazines for St. Andrews University, Green Mountain College in Vermont, and Hampshire College in Massachusetts. She holds degrees from St. Andrews and Duke Divinity School, with additional creative writing study at Green Mountain and Goddard College.

Virginia Ewing Hudson of Raleigh won Second Place for her essay “Seven Swims in Falls Lake” and will receive $300.

“‘Seven Swims in Falls Lake’ is elegantly told and innovatively structured, a love letter not only to a place but to its inhabitants—human, plant, and animal; organic and invasive; expected and surprising,” Rachlin said. “The essay is as vibrant and dynamic as its setting.”

Hudson teaches cello at Meredith College. She has won the 2017 Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize and The Woman’s Writing Award, and her work has been published in The Thomas Wolfe Review, Firefly Ridge Magazine, Wildflower Muse, and The News and Observer in Raleigh. She studied at Interlochen Arts Academy, the University of Texas at Austin, and UNC School of the Arts.

“Growing Up Ugly,” by Bahama’s Jane Shlensky, came in Third. Shlensky will receive $200 in prize money.

“‘Growing Up Ugly’ offers a moving series of contrasts,” Rachlin said. “An adult considers the child she once was. A scholar faces the unknowable. An independent thinker confronts a thoughtless collective. A political activist resolves for personal change. Yet the essay casts these conflicts not as liabilities but as opportunities. It makes one wonder: perhaps only by acknowledging limitations might a person also realize his or her potential.”

Shlensky, a veteran teacher and musician, has recent poetry in a number of magazines and anthologies, including Writer’s Digest, Pinesong, Southern Poetry Anthology: North Carolina, Kakalak, and Poetry Market. The North Carolina Poetry Society has twice nominated her poems for a Pushcart Prize, and her short fiction pieces have been finalists in the Press 53, Doris Betts, and Thomas Wolfe contests. Jane’s chapbook Barefoot on Gravel (2016) is available from Finishing Line Press.

Sponsored by the North Carolina Writers’ Network and administered by the creative writing department at the University of North Carolina at 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 the NC Writers’ Network.

Benjamin Rachlin grew up in New Hampshire. He studied English at Bowdoin College, where he won the Sinkinson Prize, and writing at UNC-Wilmington, where he won Schwartz and Brauer fellowships. His work has appeared, or is forthcoming, in The New York Times Magazine, Rolling Stone, Virginia Quarterly Review, TIME, Pacific Standard, Orion, LitHub, and Five Dials. His first book, Ghost of the Innocent Man: A True Story of Trial and Redemption, is available now from Little, Brown & Company.

Ecotone’s mission is to publish and promote the best place-based work being written today. Founded at the University of North Carolina Wilmington in 2005, the award-winning magazine features writing and art that reimagine place, and our authors interpret this charge expansively. An ecotone is a transition zone between two adjacent ecological communities, containing the characteristic species of each. It is therefore a place of danger or opportunity, a testing ground. The magazine explores the ecotones between landscapes, literary genres, scientific and artistic disciplines, modes of thought.

Rose Post worked for the Salisbury Post for fifty-six years as a reporter, feature writer, and columnist. She won numerous state and national awards for her writing and earned the NC Press Women's top annual award four times. She received the O. Henry Award from the Associated Press three times, the Pete Ivey Award, and the School Bell Award for educational coverage. Nationally, she won the 1989 Ernie Pyle Award, the Scripps Howard Foundation National Journalism Award for human-interest writing, and the 1994 National Society of Newspaper Columnists' Award.

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 www.ncwriters.org.

 

GREENSBORO—Lines are the building blocks of poetry. From the basis of lines, all poems, no matter the formal style, come into being.

Whether we're writing prose poems about the worst job we ever had or deep diving into collections by our favorite poets, it's impossible to talk about any of it without talking about lines.

The North Carolina Writers' Network 2018 Spring Conference happens Saturday, April 21, at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. 

Registration is now open.

Emilia Phillips will lead the Master Class in Poetry, "Walk the Line: Syntax and the Poetic Line."

Emilia Phillips is the author of two poetry collections from the University of Akron Press, Signaletics (2013) and Groundspeed (2016), and three chapbooks, most recently Beneath the Ice Fish Like Souls Look Alike (Bull City Press, 2015). Her poems and lyric essays appear widely in literary publications including AGNI, Boston Review, Ploughshares, Poetry, and elsewhere. She’s an assistant professor in the MFA Writing Program and the Department of English at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Her third book, Empty Clip, will be published by the University of Akron Press in Spring, 2018.

In her workshop, registrants will consider the relationship between poetry's vehicles of meaning: the line and the sentence. In doing so, attendees will investigate the ways in which these structures support, nuance, and deny one another to achieve resonance, depth, and subtext within a poem. This course will be generative, with exercises that rely on close reading and formal manipulation of texts, as well as the drafting of new pieces. Whether you want to learn more about what your favorite poets are doing with their poems or discover how to break lines in your own, this course will insist that poetry is a craft, honed by exercises and study.

For full details on applying to the Master Class in Poetry, click here.

Beginning poets, or those who want to sample a broader selection of classes, may register for additional offerings.

Charmaine Cadeau, author of two poetry collections and an Associate Professor of English at High Point University, will lead the session "Prose Poems."

Prose poetry suggests disorder from its very name, being a little of this, and a little of that. Its fluidity, folding in drama, nonfiction, fiction, and other poetries, insists on writers and readers engaged in thinking about how we read, what we read, and how it all connects. Beyond being just poems without line breaks, or narratives written by poets, prose poetry folds in conventions from other genres to push at the limits of form. In this workshop, we will look at a few models and generate some new writing.

"What Work Is: Poetry from our Working Lives" with Valerie Neiman, whose second poetry collection, Hotel Worthy (2015), had work nominated for the Pushcart Prize and cited in Best Small Fictions 2016, will discuss how work provides “our daily bread,” but also shapes the daily substance of our lives, whether that work takes place in the home, in the mall shop or mill, on the farm or behind a desk in a corporate tower. It is the framework for the story of our communities and ourselves. In this workshop, suitable for all writers, attendees will look at ways to tap into the history and culture of work to create new writing. Poetry about work will get folks started, followed by a writing exercise to help stimulate memory and imagination. Participants are asked to bring photographs of a family member at work, as well as a tool or some other memento of the workplace. Handouts will provide further inspiration and resources to help writers.

Additional conference programming includes "Lunch with an Author" (only available to those who pre-register); faculty readings and open mics; and the fourth annual Slush Pile Live! where poetry and prose will be read aloud in two rooms in front of panels of editors and publishers, who will raise their hands as soon as they hear something in the pieces that would make them stop reading if they came across the submission in a slush pile.

Register now.

 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 www.ncwriters.org.

 

GREENSBORO—Writers of creative nonfiction aren't off the hook just because they need to stick to the truth.

Elements of craft familiar to writers of fiction or poetry apply to narrative nonfiction as well: the importance of imagery; a strong opening; and structuring your piece for maximum pay-off are the considerations of all writers.

The North Carolina Writers' Network 2018 Spring Conference happens Saturday, April 21, at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. 

Registration is now open.

Cynthia Nearman will lead the Master Class in Creative Nonfiction. Nearman is chair of the Department of English and Creative Writing at Guilford College in Greensboro. Since 2009, she’s served as creative nonfiction editor for storySouth. She writes flash nonfiction, cultural commentary (rants, really), and experiments with lyric essays that sometimes turn into poems or works of speculative fiction.

Her workshop invites writers to explore and enhance their process of working with vivid images from the earliest drafting stages to making decisions about an essay’s structure and organization. The workshop is designed to engage and invigorate participants’ approaches to the smallest yet most essential elements of nonfiction storytelling: sensory images and concrete details, objects and actions. Attendees will look briefly at vivid scenes from nonfiction works published online and in print, paying careful attention to the connection between concrete details and characters’ desires, and between descriptions of actions and objects and larger meanings or ideas. They'll also consider together how and why image-driven essays work in conventional narrative forms as well as more experimental forms (e.g., lists, lyrics, braids, etc.). The main focus will be on what it means to imagine and create from within images as we generate and revise nonfiction prose. Registrants will practice strategies for discovering and selecting images that do "double duty"—i.e., concrete detail and sensory information that work organically to create living, moving pictures resonant with meaning.

For full details on applying to the Master Class in Creative Nonfiction, click here.

Beginning writers interested in nonfiction, or those who want to sample a broader selection of classes, may register for additional offerings.

Thomas Mira y Lopez, the 2017-2018 Kenan Visiting Writer at UNC-Chapel Hill, will lead the session "Opening Well: Strategies and Possibilities for Starting a Personal Essay."

This class will explore how to begin a personal essay or work of creative nonfiction. What makes an effective or engaging opening? What different strategies are available and how might writers work towards their own style and voice within these tropes? The class will examine examples of different openings in works of creative nonfiction before writing their own openings that reflect and develop on these openings.

"Cinematic Storytelling Techniques for All Writers" with Susan Emshwiller, a produced screenwriter and co-writer of the film Pollock, will enrich your storytelling dramatically. Attendees will see film clips, do prompt writing, and learn tips on effective exposition, dialogue, theme, the power of reactions, creating mystery by withholding information, show-don’t-tell, how to hide setups for surprising payoffs, writing with “shot-sizes” to invigorate their work, and more. This class will benefit writers of all genres.

Additional conference programming includes "Lunch with an Author" (only available to those who pre-register); faculty readings and open mics; and the fourth annual Slush Pile Live! where poetry and prose will be read aloud in two rooms in front of panels of editors and publishers, who will raise their hands as soon as they hear something in the pieces that would make them stop reading if they came across the submission in a slush pile.

Register now.

 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 www.ncwriters.org.

 

 
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