ECU and Joyner Library present vertical white space North Carolina: A State of Change, A Changing State
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Featured writers of this years Literary Homecoming include Anjail Rashida Ahmad, Wiley Cash, Paul Cuadros, Maria DeGuzmán, Gustavo Pérez Firmat, Anna Jean Mayhew, Irania Macías Patterson, and Calvin Alexander Ramsey.
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  FEATURED WRITERS right color bar

Anjail Rashida Ahmadduncan photo
is an Associate Professor of English and Director of the Creative Writing Program at North Carolina A&T State University. She is also an award-winning poet and disability rights advocate. Losing her eyesight in 1998 while completing her doctoral studies at the University of Missouri-Columbia, she returned to the university after a two-year hiatus and has gone on to win awards and to be celebrated for the candor of her poems, especially those about blindness and disability. Ahmad’s collection of poems Necessary Kindling (Louisiana State University Press, 2001) was a finalist for the Milt Kessler Book Award. She is also the recipient of the Margaret Walker Alexander Award for Poetry, the Robert Frost Prize in Poetry, the Southern Literary Festival Prize for Poetry, and two Janef Preston Prizes for Poetry from The Academy of American Poets. Her poems have appeared in numerous publications, including African American Review, The Black Scholar, Midlands, and Ikon. In 2005–2006, Ahmad served as the Distinguished Gilbert-Chappell Poet for the North Carolina Poetry Society, and in 2006 she founded Black Ink Writers Workshop for writers of the African Diaspora in Greensboro.

kenan imageWiley Cash
grew up in Gastonia, NC. He received his B.A. in literature from the University of North Carolina–Asheville, an M.A. in English from the University of North Carolina–Greensboro, and a Ph.D. in English from the University of Louisiana–Lafayette. His debut novel, A Land More Kind Than Home (William Morrow/HarperCollins, 2012), a New York Times bestseller in both hardcover and paperback, was featured on best of 2012 lists by The New York Times, Library Journal, Kirkus Reviews, and other publications; was a Barnes and Noble Discover selection and an IndieNext Pick; and was also named debut novel of the year by the United Kingdom's Crime Writer’s Association. He has received grants and fellowships from the Asheville Area Arts Council, the Thomas Wolfe Society, the MacDowell Colony, and Yaddo. He and his wife currently live in West Virginia, and he teaches in the Low-Residency MFA Program in Fiction and Nonfiction Writing at Southern New Hampshire University. Read more about Wiley Cash in an interview in NCLR 2013, forthcoming this summer.

David Gessner imagePaul Cuadros is an award-winning investigative reporter and author whose work has appeared in such periodicals as The New York Times, The Huffington Post, and Time Magazine. A graduate of the University of Michigan and Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, he has focused his career in journalism writing and reporting on issues of race and poverty. He is a co-recipient of the 2006 Alfred I. duPont-Columbia Journalism Award for his contribution to the WUNC–FM radio series North Carolina Voices, Understanding Poverty. In 2007, he joined the faculty at the School of Journalism & Mass Communication at UNC–Chapel Hill, where he co-founded the Carolina Latina-Latino Collaborative, the Latino educational and cultural center at the university. Cuadros also serves as the Chair and Executive Director of the Scholars’ Latino Initiative, a three-year mentoring and college preparatory program between UNC–Chapel Hill students and Latino high school students. Cuadros’s book A Home on the Field: How One Championship Team Inspires Hope for the Revival of Small Town America (Harper Collins, 2007) tells the story of Siler City, NC, as it copes and struggles with Latino immigration. Read more about emerging Latino/a voices in North Carolina literature (like Paul Cuadros) in Joan Conwell’s essay in NCLR Online 2013.

David Gessner imageMaría DeGuzmán
Born in Madrid Spain and educated at Brown and Harvard, María DeGuzmán is a Professor of English & Comparative Literature and founding Director of Latina/o Studies at the University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill. A member of the Latino Journalism & Media at Carolina Advisory Board, she is the author of two books: Spain’s Long Shadows: The Black Legend, Off-Whiteness, and Anglo-American Empire (University of Minnesota Press, 2005), and Buenas Noches, American Culture: Latina/o Aesthetics of Night (Indiana University Press, 2012). DeGuzmán is also a conceptual photographer and has published essays involving her photography in journals such as Art Journal, Centro: Journal of the Center for Puerto Rican Studies, Word & Image Interactions, and Madorla: Neuva Estricura de las Américas / New Writing from the Americas, and others. Read more about her and Latino/a literature in North Carolina and see samples of her photography in an interview forthcoming this summer in NCLR 2013.

Gustavo Pérez Firmatduncan photo
Gustavo Pérez Firmat was born in Cuba and raised in Miami. Currently, he divides his time between New York City and Chapel Hill. He taught at Duke University in Durham, NC, from 1978 to 1999, where he was named Scholar-Teacher of the Year in 1997. He is now the David Feinson Professor of Humanities at Columbia University in New York and a member of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences. He has been the recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Council of Learned Societies, and the Mellon Foundation. He is the author of Life on the Hyphen (University of Texas Press, 1994; rev. ed. 2012), The Havana Habit (Yale University Press, 2010), as well as several other books of literary and cultural criticism, four collections of poetry, a novel, and a memoir. His book, A Cuban in Mayberry: Looking Back at America’s Hometown, is forthcoming from the University of Texas Press. Read his essay “A Cuban in Mayberry” in the 2013 issue of NCLR, forthcoming this summer.

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David Gessner imageAnna Jean Mayhew
Anna Jean Mayhew, a native of Charlotte, has lived her whole life in North Carolina, although she often travels to Europe with her Swiss-born husband. She has been both production editor of a major medical journal and editor of a science fiction fan magazine. In earlier careers, she ran a court-reporting agency and worked in opera management. Mayhew has been a member of the same writing group since 1987 and now leads two groups herself. Much of her writing reflects her vivid memories of growing up in the segregated South. Her first novel, The Dry Grass of August, received the Sir Walter Raleigh Award for fiction in 2011. She is working on a second novel, currently titled “Tomorrow’s Bread.” For more information about these novels and their creator, read the interview with her forthcoming in NCLR 2013.

Zelda Lockhart image
A native of Venezuela, Irania Macías Patterson writes books for children. She earned her MA in Children’s Literature from La Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona, Spain, and certification to teach K-12 at UNC–Charlotte. She has been the bilingual children’s coordinator at the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library since 1997. Her bilingual book Chipi Chipis Small Shells of the Sea (Central Piedmont Community College Press, 2005) was the winner of the 2006 Children’s Choices Award by the International Reading Association. Patterson’s most recent book for children, also bilingual, is Wings and Dreams: The Legend of Angel Falls (Novello Festival Press, 2010). Read more about the emerging Latino/a voices in North Carolina literature (like Patterson’s) in Joan Conwell’s essay in NCLR Online 2013.

David Gessner imageCalvin Alexander Ramsey is a playwright, author, painter, and photographer born in Baltimore, MD, but raised in Roxboro, NC, and he has also lived in Chapel Hill. He is the author of twelve plays, including three musicals, and two children’s books (reviewed in NCLR Online 2013). He is the recipient of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Drum Major for Justice Award and has served on the Georgia Council for the Arts Theater Panel. For five years, he served on Woodruff Library’s Advisory Committee on Manuscript and Rare Book Library at Emory University. He is now a member of the Paul Green Foundation Advisory Board. His play Canada Lee, an exploration on the complex career of the gifted African American actor and civil rights activist who played the lead in the Broadway production of Native Son (written by Richard Wright with North Carolina playwright Paul Green), was read at the National Black Theater Festival, in Winston-Salem, NC, in 2005 and in February 2013 at LaMaMa ETC in New York City. The Green Book, a two-act play about the difficulties African Americans faced while traveling during the Jim Crow era, was based on his research on The Negro Motorist Green Book, a manual directing African Americans to safe restaurants, hotels and gas stations. Theatrical Outfit in Atlanta, GA, performed The Green Book in 2011.


The Roberts Award for Inspiration 2013 recipient, Fred Chappell taught at the University of North Carolina–Greensboro for over forty years, where he helped establish the MFA Creative Writing Program. Born in Canton, NC, he attended Duke University and has gone on to author over a dozen books of poetry (eight of which have received the Roanoke-Chowan Poetry Prize), several novels and short story collections, and two books of literary criticism. Chappell’s numerous awards and honors include the T.S. Eliot Prize, the Bollingen Prize, the Aiken Taylor Award, and an award from the National Academy of Arts and Letters, as well as the O. Max Gardner Award and the North Carolina Award for Literature. Chappell lives in Greensboro with his wife, Susan. Read a series of poetry and prose by this former North Carolina Poet Laureate in NCLR 2013.

MUSIC BY JIM CLARKJim Clark headshot
Poet-musician Jim Clark is a Professor of English at Barton College and currently holds the Elizabeth H. Jordan Chair of Southern Literature. He received his MFA from UNC–Greensboro, where he was a student of Fred Chappell. The author of two books of poetry, Dancing on Canaan’s Ruins (Eternal Delight Productions, 1997) and Handiwork (Saint Andrews Press, 1998), he has also released two solo CDs: Buried Land (Eternal Delight, 2003), a collection of Appalachian folk music and his own poems, and The Service of Song (Eternal Delight, 2010), his musical settings of the poems of Byron Herbert Reece. In 2006 and 2007, Clark served as the North Carolina Poetry Society’s Gilbert-Chappell Distinguished Poet for Eastern North Carolina. His most recent work, Notions: A Jim Clark Miscellany, was published in 2007 through Rank Stranger Press.


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