GREENVILLE—Alex Albright will lead the Creative Nonfiction workshop at the NCWN 2019 Squire Summer Writing Workshops, July 18-21, at East Carolina University, in Greenville.
He's a lauded writer and beloved educator. He's also the owner of the R.A. Fountain General Store in downtown Fountain.
Described as a "regional cultural hub," the store sells vinyls, books, and other "knick-knacks," but it doesn't keep regular hours. Instead, it often serves as a musical venue for a range of genres, primarily bluegrass. Albright, along with his wife Elizabeth, purchased the general store and re-opened it in 2004. The hope was to bring people back to the downtown. Now the venue has an international reputation.
According to a profile on the website of the NC Folklore Society, Albright was on his way back to Greenville in the mid-1990s when he passed through Fountain and noticed "For Sale" sign on the eighty-year-old Smith-Yelverton building, which had been on the market so long that the realtors had given up sales promotion a dozen years before. Upstairs in the 110 by 35 foot space, Alex saw sunlight flooding from tall windows across 'the most gorgeous sight—all that old wood.' He thought, 'If the roof is okay in this building, then my life is going to somehow change.'"
Although the economy has changed since the early nineties, and the price of gas has gone up and come down and gone up again, the store persists as a "combination of antique store, bookstore, music store, cafe, and concert hall, with salvaged church pews and theater seats, and a varied collection of chairs. The rolling ladder for stocking shelves [is] still there, now with the mostly local current stock of music recordings, NC-authored books, jams and jellies, honey, homemade ice cream, glass-bottled sodas, and crafts."
It's this commitment to community that has kept at the forefront of North Carolina's literary scene: he founded the North Carolina Literary Review in 1991 and retired from ECU in 2018.
At the NCWN 2019 Squire Summer Writing Workshops, Albright will lead the class, "Dramatic Plot Not Required."
Good creative nonfiction is an immersion into another world. It needn’t be plot driven: it’s always more than a record of what happened, and much more than simply writing from an "I" point-of-view. Its definition, in fact, sometimes seems fluid and subjective. This session will begin with a brief historical overview of how the newest literary genre came to be before, and of how it’s variously defined. Writers will soon settle on personal goals of CNF that match their interests in writing nonfiction prose: memoir? travel, history, review or opinion piece? biography? Primary emphasis is on how writers at any stage in their career can employ the techniques usually common to writing fiction—setting, dialog, and character development especially—to better authenticate their creative nonfiction work, with a special emphasis on developing settings and a narrator’s identity appropriate to both your story and the time and place in which it occurs. Participants should bring to class introductory paragraphs for two or three of their favorite nonfiction pieces by other writers.
Each registrant should be ready to handle the intensive instruction and atmosphere of the workshop.
The Squire Summer Writing Workshops offer a limited number of attendees the chance to spend fifteen hours studying one genre with one instructor in a small-group setting, along with ample time to attend programs and readings, write, reflect, and dine with one another. In other words, the chance to live a literary life, at least for one long weekeend.
Attendance is capped at forty. Pre-registration ended on July 3.
Alex Albright developed one of the first creative nonfiction curriculums in the U.S. while teaching at East Carolina University, where he also founded the North Carolina Literary Review. A Graham native, he earned degrees in English and journalism at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and an MFA from UNC Greensboro, where he studied with Fred Chappell. His book The Forgotten First: B-1 and the Integration of the Modern Navy was a 2014 Montaigne Medal finalist. In 2015, the NCLR established the Alex Albright Award for Creative Nonfiction. His recent publicatons include “Langston Hughes in Reno” in Nevada Magazine; “Carolina Bluegrass Band: Getting Good Grades from Russell Johnson” in Bluegrass Unlimited; “On Bohemian Bluegrass, Beer, Some Barbecue and a Few Weeks in Prague” in storySouth; and “Mose McQuitty’s Band and Minstrel Days, 1899-1937” in Bandwagon, which won the 2017 Stuart Thayer Prize for Best Publication on Circus History. He lives in Fountain and with his wife, Elizabeth, operates Fountain General Store; they were co-recipients of the 2012 Brown-Hudson Award from the NC Folklore Society.
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.