Monday, November 11, 2013 —
RALEIGH, N.C. -- North Carolina sustained the loss in 2012 of Andy Griffith, Bill Friday, Doc Watson and Earl Scruggs, individuals who embodied much of what we represent and how we sound. Presenters at the annual meeting of the North Carolina Literary and Historical Association on Nov. 22 will reflect on their achievements. All sessions will take place in the downtown Raleigh Sheraton beginning at 1:30 p.m. The afternoon program is free and open to the public; the evening banquet, which requires registration, is open to any who inquire. The evening culminates with the North Carolina Book Awards, presented to the North Carolina residents judged to have authored the year's best works of nonfiction, fiction, poetry and juvenile literature.
Not since 1981 have the ranks of Tar Heel luminaries been depleted in such quick succession. In that year, editors Jonathan Daniels and Harry Golden; playwright Paul Green; professors Hugh Holman and Hugh Lefler; writer Guy Owen; and poet James Larkin Pearson died. Sam Ragan of Southern Pines remembered what he called the "stalwarts" at that year's meeting of the Literary and Historical Association.
A host of presenters will recall the "giants" who died last year and reflect upon how they shaped modern North Carolina. The proceedings begin with Georgann Eubanks of Carrboro recalling Doris Betts, who died in 2012, and other writers represented in her three-volume "Literary Trails of North Carolina." Next, a panel will assess the impact of Bill Friday, president of the University of North Carolina from 1956 to 1986. Speaking will be Jim Jenkins of the Raleigh "News and Observer"; Virginia Taylor, Friday's assistant; and filmmaker Steve Channing, who will share an excerpt of his new film, profiling Friday's law school study group. Robert Cantwell, American Studies professor at UNC-Chapel Hill, will address the influence of Doc Watson and Earl Scruggs on the folk revival of the 1960s.
That evening, in the annual Keats and Elizabeth Sparrow keynote address, Evan Smith Rakoff, who grew up in Asheboro, will take as his subject "Andy Griffith, America's Surrogate Father." Rakoff, who now lives in Manhattan, has written about Griffith for "Slate" and the "
Los Angeles Review of Books," and is planning a book-length study of Griffith and other father figures in American culture.
The North Carolina Book Award recipients reflect the breadth of the state's literary community. David Cecelski of Durham receives the Ragan Old North State Award for Nonfiction for "The Fire of Freedom: Abraham Galloway and the Slaves' Civil War." The product of years of exhaustive research, the book profiles a slave rebel, radical abolitionist, Union spy, freedom fighter, organizer of the freedmen's conventions, and state senator, who in Cecelski's words, "burned with an incandescent passion against tyranny and injustice." In 2002, Cecelski won the last Mayflower Cup for "The Waterman's Song: Slavery and Freedom in Maritime North Carolina." The Ragan Award is the successor to the Mayflower Cup.
Terry Roberts of Asheville and Chapel Hill receives the 2013 Sir Walter Raleigh Award for Fiction for "A Short Time to Stay Here," a novel centered around the true story of German
prisoners of war interned at Hot Springs during World War I. Writer Lee Smith commends the book for its "evocative setting" and "highly original yet authentic characters.
Former North Carolina Poet Laureate Kathryn Stripling Byer of Sylva receives the Roanoke-Chowan Award for Poetry for her volume entitled "Descent." The collection, the sixth by Byer, plays upon themes of family and race. Byer is a previous winner of the award in 1998 for "Black Shawl." The incumbent Poet Laureate Joseph Bathanti will make the presentation.
Kelly Starling Lyons of Raleigh receives the American Association of University Women Award for Juvenile Literature for "Tea Cakes for Tosh," the story of an African-American boy who helps his grandmother remember an important family story. The award is the latest in a parade of honors that have come to the author and book.
Other presentations on Nov. 22 highlight lifetime achievement. Freddie Parker of Durham, history professor at North Carolina Central University, receives the Christopher Crittenden Memorial Award for contributions to North Carolina history. A member of the North Carolina Historical Commission, Parker has been a reliable supporter of interpretive programs at historic sites across the state. Margaret Maron of Johnston County, the acclaimed mystery writer, receives the R. Hunt Parker Memorial Award
for literary achievement. Samm-Art Williams of Burgaw is honored with the Hardee Rives Dramatic Arts Award for his career on the New York stage and for his numerous television productions.
The Historical Society of North Carolina each year presents two awards at the dinner. This year's R. D. W. Connor Award, for the best article in the "North Carolina Historical Review" goes to J. Vincent Lowery of the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay for" The Transatlantic Dreams of the Port City Prophet: The Rural Reform Campaign of Hugh MacRae." Wes Reynolds, a graduate of Davidson College, receives the Hugh T. Lefler Award for the best paper on North Carolina history completed by an undergraduate. His entry was entitled "'Mental Deficients' to Family Planning Clinics: The Human Betterment League's Representations of Eugenic Initiatives in North Carolina, 1947-1972."
The North Carolina Museum of History wins the Award of Merit from the American Association for State and Local History (AASLH) for its exhibit, "History in Every Direction: The Tar Heel Junior Historian Association Discovery Gallery." The AASLH Awards, now in their 68th year, are the most prestigious honors for achievement in the preservation and interpretation of state and local history.
The Wake County Historical Society has won the Albert Ray Newsome Award, which is presented each year by the Federation of North Carolina Historical Societies to recognize noteworthy achievements in the preservation of local history. The award is in recognition of the society's work restoring the tombstone of Rachel Bauer in historic Oakwood Cemetery in Raleigh.
The annual Student Publications Awards recognize the state's best literary magazines. Honored this year are, at the high school level, first place, "Roars and Whispers," Providence, Charlotte; second place, "Spectrum," Arendell Parrott, Kinston; third place, "Crinkum-Crankum," Northern Vance, Henderson; honorable mention, "Opus," Charlotte Country Day; and, at the middle school level, first place, "Illusions," Martin, Raleigh; second place, "Boundless," Randolph, Charlotte; and third place, "Paw Printz," Randleman.
Registration is $50 for the Friday reception at 5 p.m. and dinner at 6 p.m. (check payable to the North Carolina Literary and Historical Association). Registration is due by mail by Nov. 10. Please call (919) 807-7280 or visit http://www.ncdcr.gov/ListAndHistMeeting for information. The Office of Archives and History, within the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources, administers the program.