NC Literary Hall of Fame




ASHEVILLE—Laura Hope-GIll, the director of the Thomas Wolfe MFA Program at Lenoir-Rhyne University and the founding director of Asheville Wordfest, will lead the poetry-prose session "Write with the Wolfe—a Poetry/Prose Poetry Rebellion" at the North Carolina Writers' Network 2019 Fall Conference, November 8-10, at the Doubletree by Hilton Asheville-Biltmore.

Conference registration is open.

Laura's collection of poems, The Soul Tree, received the first Okra Award from the Southern Independent Booksellers Association. The National Forest Service and Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation inducted her as the first poet laureate of the Blue Ridge Parkway for her poems honoring the Southern Appalachians. She received two awards from the North Carolina Society of Historians for her two architectural histories of Asheville, Look Up Asheville, I and 2. While building a graduate writing program and raising a child, she has been developing a memoir about her journey to deafness and a novel based on her grandmother's experience in a Japanese Prison Camp and the aftermath of World War II. She is a champion of the vital connection between story and medicine and launched the world's first certificate program in Narrative Healthcare. Her poems, fiction, and creative nonfiction have appeared in Bellevue Literary Review, Parabola, North Carolina Literary Review, and other beautiful publications.

This year, NCWN has been celebrating libraries, so we asked Laura to give us her best library memory.

"I used to forge my drama teacher’s signature on library passes I photocopied at dad’s office to skip classes in high school to read Margaret Atwood’s book of poems in the back corner of the school library. The book was You Are Happy. It was filled with Atwood’s sparse, jarring images reflecting her utter impatience for romantic notions of love and harsh perceptions of an emotional reality I wasn’t told we were allowed to have. I don’t know why I never checked it out, though I do have my college’s library copy from their $1 sale. What I know is that book saved me from my life. This was in the '80s. The only other woman poet I had access to was Emily Dickinson, who of course wasn’t taught the way she should be. With Atwood you couldn’t get distracted by scansion. It was a woman’s interior life in a patriarchy, and it was terrifying and refreshing."

Thomas Wolfe inspired/obsessed Jack Kerouac, Ray Bradbury, William Faulkner, Betty Smith, Pat Conroy, and Robert Morgan. In the town made immortal in Look Homeward, Angel, "Write with the Wolfe—a Poetry/Prose Poetry Rebellion," will delve into Wolfe's poetic prose to break free of the constraints we place on ourselves. Where we might ask, “Is it too much?” Wolfe howls at us: NO! It's not nearly enough! Develop an expansive drafting-and-revision approach that can gather more, more, more of the essence of life and of your own soul. Let go of the censorship and the feeling that our poems need to be as tidy and assembled as an IKEA showroom. Cut loose, be free, write a million words. Laura will present a selection of Wolfe’s poetic passages and direct attention to technical choices that hold the work together. She'll also provide a thematic overview to show the benefits of not holding back when writing including cultural truth telling and to give non-Wolfeans entry points into Wolfe's books and stories. 

Fall Conference attracts hundreds of writers from around the country and provides a weekend full of activities that include lunch and dinner banquets with readings, keynotes, tracks in several genres, open mic sessions, and the opportunity for one-on-one manuscript critiques with editors or agents. Ron Rash will give the Keynote Address.

The Thomas Wolfe MFA in Creative Writing Program at Lenoir-Rhyne University is the sponsor of Friday night's Welcome Reception.

Register here.

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


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