NC Literary Hall of Fame



GREENSBORO—All writers have something of an investigative eye, perhaps none more so than poets who, with every line scrutinized, must unearth the most effective words and symbols to convey their artistic intent.

Poets do this, of course, through curiosity, by being unafraid to fail, and by using elements of the craft such as metaphor and point of view, all of which will be shared and discussed at the upcoming North Carolina Writers' Network 2019 Spring Conference on Saturday, April 27, at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

Registration is now open.

Amy Catanzano will lead the Master Class in Poetry "Investigative Poetics."

This Master Class will focus on what is known as “investigative poetics,” where writers innovatively and adventurously probe, explore, and research subjects of study that can bring their writing—and lived experiences—to new depths and rewards. Investigation begins with curiosity, ambition, and possibility. It is sustained by exploration, skill, and resources. We start with the notion that the artistic practice of poetry, when vital and inventive, happens within an “expanded field” situated beyond the homogenous, the ordinary, the obvious, and the habituated. As “field poets” (like “field journalists” who go into the field to do their reporting), we work with and alongside language to interface with this expanded field in the service of our writing and research. We will discuss effective strategies that will maximize our creative research efforts, develop personalized plans for conducting field work, and practice writing techniques that are designed to initiate and support our work. The curriculum will be suited to those who already have a subject of investigation in mind as well as to those interested in beginning a new project.

Poets also have the option of taking poetry courses a la carte.

Ashley Lumpkin, author of three chapbooks and a member of the Bull City Slam Team since 2015, will lead the session "Metaphor and Memory in Poetry."

This course will explore personal narrative poetry and the techniques necessary to make an individual experience accessible to a universal audience. In particular, participants will discuss crafting an extended metaphor as the framework of a personal narrative.

In the afternoon session, Charlotte Matthews will lead "The Wonder of Falling." Charlotte's most recent book Whistle What Can’t Be Said (Unicorn Press, 2016) chronicles part of her experience with stage three breast cancer.

For poets, the act of writing embodies the act of falling by engendering a wider, albeit riskier, realm. How can we foster and celebrate the process? How can we preserve our spot in this riskier realm and still live, still engage, in the “real” world? This class will explore the notion of falling, of unmasking the placid exterior of our human selves to reveal a riotous core. It will include a guided look at several poems as well as a writing exercise, which will be shaped into a collaborative poem. Participants will experience first-hand the risker, fallen realm.

Finally, "Stepping Back from Your Writing" with Joseph Mills, whose poetry collection This Miraculous Turning was awarded the North Carolina Roanoke-Chowan Award for Poetry for its exploration of race and family, invites participants to bring a draft in progress and plan to revise. In James Thurber’s “Many Moons,” a jeweler steps back from a creation and asks, “What is this thing I’ve made?” This is what wall writers need to do as we revise, but it can be difficult to get the necessary distance. In this workshop, participants will discuss ways to “defamiliarize themselves” with their writing so that they can see it more clearly, and they’ll consider several quick “down and dirty diagnostics” exercises that help a writer assess a piece of work in process.

Additional conference programming includes "Lunch with an Author" (only available to those who pre-register); faculty readings and open mics; and the 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


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