NCLR Founders Honored at Literary Homecoming
By Erica Plouffe Lazure
The founders of the “North Carolina Literary Review” were honored Sept. 28 at East Carolina University’s J.Y. Joyner Library with the Roberts Award for Literary Inspiration.
Alex Albright, ECU professor of creative writing, Eva Roberts, professor emeritus of graphic design, and W. Keats Sparrow, former dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, were recognized for their longtime commitment and development of the state’s literary journal of record.
“We are here this weekend to celebrate the literary riches of this region,” said Margaret Bauer, the English department’s Rives Chair of Southern literature and the current editor of NCLR. “We honor the significant literary contribution to North Carolina made by Alex, Keats and Eva.”
The award was presented at ECU’s Fourth Annual Literary Homecoming, a two-day celebration of writers with roots in North Carolina. The award is presented annually by the library in recognition of a writer whose work has influenced in a significant way the literature of North Carolina.
“These three individuals have inspired each other, and, in turn, have inspired others,” said Shelby Strother, president of the Friends of the J.Y. Joyner Library.
Founded in 1992, the journal, under the leadership of Albright and Roberts, received numerous awards for its design and content, including the Council of Editors of Learned Journals Award for Best New Journal and Best New Journal Design.
Albright, the founding editor of the NCLR, credited then-Dean Sparrow with the vision of going before the North Carolina Literature and Historical Association to house NCLR at ECU. He also thanked Roberts for her ideas to incorporate in the journal a strong visual and artistic presence.“Eva truly opened my eyes to seeing, not just magazines, but the world,” he said.
Sparrow said that the high standards Albright set in the beginning continue today under the leadership of Bauer and English professor Lorraine Robinson. He said he knew that Albright would not fail him.
“There’s a big distinction between getting a journal approved for ECU and making it a product that would reflect well upon ECU,” Sparrow said.
“I wanted to make sure I was getting the journal into the best hands possible. Anything [Albright] does, he does it superbly.”
This year being ECU’s Centennial, the NCLR has a focus on ECU writers and artists. Bauer remarked that it was most fitting that the individuals honored with the Roberts Award are from ECU.
The award was named for Mr. and Mrs. B.W.C. Roberts of Durham, in honor of their gift to Joyner Library of the Roberts Collection of North Carolina Literature.