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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 www.ncwriters.org.

 

ASHEVILLE—Heather Newton’s novel Under The Mercy Trees won the Thomas Wolfe Memorial Literary Award, was chosen by the Women’s National Book Association as a Great Group Reads Selection, and named an “Okra Pick” by the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance.

Her short prose has appeared in Enchanted Conversation Magazine, The Drum, Dirty Spoon, and elsewhere. A practicing attorney, she teaches creative writing for UNC-Asheville’s Great Smokies Writing Program and is co-founder and Program Manager for the Flatiron Writers Room writers’ center in Asheville.

At the North Carolina Writers' Network 2019 Fall Conference, Heather will lead the fiction workshop "Thievery, Loss and Scars." 

The NCWN 2019 Conference runs November 8-10 at the Doubletree by Hilton Asheville-Biltmore. Registration is open.

This year, NCWN has been celebrating libraries. As part of this year-long appreciation, Heather shared the following: 

"I grew up in Raleigh. In the summer, the Bookmobile would come around. (It ran in Raleigh until 1972 when funding was cut, then resumed in the 1990s.) There was a limit on how many books you could check out. This is when having siblings came in handy (the only time when having siblings came in handy). There were four kids in my family. We could each check out ten books. That’s forty books. Yeah. When the Bookmobile wasn’t running, my mother packed us all in our VW bus and took us to the Richard B. Harrison library on New Bern Avenue which had a great collection of children’s books. There, as well, I believe there was a limit to how many you could check out. Siblings. Forty books. Yeah.

"My mother was a children’s book author. That got her (still does) special treatment from the librarians in town and from our school librarians. In elementary school, I was allowed to leave class to go to the library, where Mrs. Mullins, our school librarian, let me check out whatever I wanted. I loved horses and would read any horse book I could get my hands on. I found The Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis, which led me to the other Chronicles of Narnia. I still enjoy re-reading those books to this day. Other favorites were Blue Willow by Doris Gates and A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett, illustrated with Tasha Tudor’s amazing watercolors. Our school library was open in the summer when school was out. I remember riding my bike the quarter mile to my school in summer and checking out The Arabian Nights and The Black Stallion. When I was in high school, Wake County created a public library at my high school, Athens Drive. I loved that the border between school and public libraries had dissolved.

"As a mom, I took my daughter to the Buncombe County libraries for story time and books. She’s twenty now and has lost her own library card somewhere in her messy room, so uses mine. She checks out stacks of books—graphic novels, memoirs, fiction—and promises she’ll turn them in before the fines accrue.

"I don’t mind paying the fines. I’m glad to have raised a daughter who loves a library."

Books on creative writing sometimes encourage you to interview our characters to get to know them, but does discovering that our character’s favorite color is blue and her favorite food is beef stroganoff really make our fiction better? In "Thievery, Loss and Scars: A Fiction Workshop," we’ll dig deep into our characters’ minds, memories, and emotions to force them to tell us the good stuff. Come prepared to write and share your work with others.

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. Jeremy B. Jones will lead the Master Class in Nonfiction. Other fiction offerings include sessions led by Kevin McIlvoy, Dale Neal, Tommy Hays, and more. Novelist Ron Rash will give the Keynote Address.

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 www.ncwriters.org.

 

ASHEVILLE—Keith Flynn, whose book The Rhythm Method, Razzamatazz, and Memory: How to Make Your Poetry Swing was recently re-released by Press 53, will lead the poetry session "Capturing the Persona Poem" at the North Carolina Writers' Network 2019 Fall Conference, November 8-10, at the Doubletree by Hilton Asheville-Biltmore.

Conference registration is open.

Keith Flynn (www.keithflynn.net) is the award-winning author of seven books, including six collections of poetry: most recently Colony Collapse Disorder (Wings Press, 2013) and forthcoming The Skin of Meaning (Red Hen Press, 2020). He is the Executive Director and producer of the TV show, “LIVE at White Rock Hall,” and Animal Sounds Productions, both which create collaborations between writers and musicians in video and audio formats. His award-winning poetry and essays have appeared in many journals and anthologies around the world, including The American Literary Review, The Colorado Review, Poetry Wales, Five Points, Poetry East, The Southern Poetry Anthology, The Poetics of American Song Lyrics, Writer’s Chronicle, The Cimarron Review, Rattle, Shenandoah, Word, and Witness: 100 Years of NC Poetry, Crazyhorse, and many others. He has been awarded the Sandburg Prize for poetry, a 2013 NC Literary Fellowship, the ASCAP Emerging Songwriter Prize, the Paumanok Poetry Award, and was twice named the Gilbert-Chappell Distinguished Poet for NC. Flynn is founder and managing editor of The Asheville Poetry Review, which began publishing in 1994.

This year, NCWN has been celebrating libraries, so we asked Keith to give us his best library memory. He generously shared two!

"Two library anecdotes stand out for me. The first was when I was in the 5th grade and my teacher, Ms. Redmon was about 5'2" inches tall, as round as a fire hydrant, with a sweet smile that seemed to cover her entire face, that was always flushed, with the tiniest purple veins like a spider's web on her neck. I was a straight-A student, driven, but bored, and my boredom caused Ms. Redmon much consternation after I had thrown another spitball or pulled another pigtail or got into another fight.

"Finally, her patience bested, she took me aside, and staring hard into my eyes, she took off the key that she kept on a chain around her neck and said, 'Look little Flynn, the next time you want to cause me some trouble, or you're bored and not being challenged, you take this key and go to the library and you start reading a book. Then you make a one paragraph report about what you've read and I'll give you extra credit, starting right now.'

"When she put the chain around my neck, I felt entirely special, as if knighted, and took to my task with a wild ambition. I would read every book in that small room, with shelves from floor to ceiling, and started with a biography of the Apache chief Cochise. I didn't get to every book that year, but that faith in me compelled a love of the written word that has never abated, and I owe that kind woman a debt that can never be repaid. Every writer has a story of some teacher whose faith in them inspired their dogged creative impulse. I'm lucky in the fact that I have had more than one of those teachers, but the lovely moon face of Ms. Redmon still occupies a place in my memory as the first in that lineage.

"The second incident occurred when I was a freshman at Mars Hill College, attending on a basketball scholarship, and starting to be called to become a poet, which for me seemed like a religious conversion, I know no other way to describe it, and everywhere I was confronted with signs and signifiers. My first foray into the library I found a book of poetry, The Far Field, by the great Saginaw poet, Theodore Roethke, and was so moved by the music and methods of these poems that I had to have the book as my own. Impetuously, I tossed the small collection from the second floor window into the bushes below and ran to my dorm room to dissect those amazing lines. It was the first thing I had ever stolen in my life; and I have carried that book with me for forty years. I imagine the library fees might pay for a new wing on that building should they ever come due."

Persona, from the Latin, means mask, and "Capturing the Persona Poem" will focus on the perspective of first person narration in composing poetry from behind the mask and the development of the poet speaking in the voice of historical figures, incorporating the poet's own personal experience into the presentation. The dramatic monologues of Robert Browning will be examined. The figures speaking through the poems of Frank Bidart, Ai, Margaret Atwood, John Berryman, Terrance Hayes, Anne Sexton, and others will be discussed, illustrating how authenticity is captured through the accumulation of specific detail and intimacy between the audience and the author. The theatrical vagaries of detachment and the manipulation of identity will be viewed as strategies in the construction of the poem's narrative.

Each participant should submit two poems in first person, prior to the workshop, for group discussion and any poems deemed exemplary will considered for publication in Asheville Poetry Review.

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. Jeremy B. Jones will lead the Master Class in Creative Nonfiction. Ron Rash will give the Keynote Address.

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 www.ncwriters.org.

 

 
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