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Pieces of Eight


Literary Festival Features Carolina Authors

Authors and readers from North Carolina will convene at East Carolina University Sept. 28-29 for the Fourth Eastern North Carolina Literary Homecoming.

The annual free event, offered by ECU’s J.Y. Joyner Library, aims to increase appreciation for eastern North Carolina’s literary traditions and authors, said Margaret Bauer, editor of the “North Carolina Literary Review” and Rives Chair of Southern Literature at ECU.


“From the Outer Banks to I-95 you will find the home towns of some of North Carolina’s greatest literary stars, like previous keynote speakers Allan Gurganus, Jill McCorkle, and Michael Parker,” Bauer said. “We are fortunate that many are still here or, like Samm-Art Williams, have returned home to live and that those who have moved away are happy to have an excuse to come home.”

Maury York, North Carolina librarian at Joyner Library, said that area residents look forward to hearing and interacting with authors from the region.

“People in the audience nod their heads as the writers discuss how eastern North Carolina has influenced their writing. Attendees can identify with the issues the writers raise and enjoy discussing these issues with them,” York said. “Two years ago, a woman said that the Homecoming had added a year to her life. We want everyone to feel that way.”

The weekend events include:

• Friday, Sept. 28: (7 p.m. – 9:30 p.m., Joyner Library) The evening will begin with readings from Philip Gerard, author of “Cape Fear Rising,” a novel based on the Wilmington Race Riot, among several other books, and Alice McGill, author of such children’s books as the award winning “Molly Bannakay.” Both authors will address the theme of this year’s event, “Creating Story out of Family and History.” In keeping with Literary Homecoming tradition, Gerard will provide musical entertainment after the readings. A dessert reception will follow, honoring this year’s recipients of ECU’s Roberts Award for Literary Inspiration.

• Saturday, Sept. 29: (8 a.m. – 5 p.m.) Lu Ann Jones, author of “Mama Learned Us to Work” and Dorothy Spruill Redford, author of “Somerset Homecoming,” will lead a panel discussion focusing on “Creating Story through History.”

• “Creating Fiction from Family and History,” the next panel discussion, features Alice McGill and Kat Meads, author of “The Invented Life of Kitty Duncan.”

• A third panel discussion is entitled “Telling the Story through Poetry” and features Jeffrey Franklin, author of “For the Lost Boys,” and Susan Meyers, author of “Keep and Give Away.”

• The keynote address will be presented by Samm-Art Williams, accomplished playwright, screenwriter, actor, and producer from Burgaw. Williams received a Tony nomination for Best Broadway Play for “Home,” a play about returning to rural eastern North Carolina from New York City, which also received the NAACP Image Award.

Williams’s plays have been produced in New York and Los Angeles, as well as throughout his home state. For the screen, Williams has written “Solomon Northup’s Odyssey” (PBS), “John Henry” (Showtime), “Badges” (CBS), and episodes for such programs as “Cagney and Lacey,” “ Miami Vice,” “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air,” and “Martin.” He has been nominated for two Emmy Awards and has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts.

All events for Friday and Saturday will take place on the second floor of Joyner Library. Registration begins at 7 p.m. Friday and at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday. A box lunch will be offered on Saturday for $7 in the Library. Registration is recommended, as space is limited and advance notice is required for those interested in purchasing a box lunch. Public school educators can earn up to one Continuing Education Unit for professional development.

The project is made possible in part by the North Carolina Arts Council with funding from the state of North Carolina and the National Endowment for the Arts.

For additional information, call (252) 328-1068, e-mail or visit


This page originally appeared in the August 24, 2007 issue of Pieces of Eight. Complete issue is archived at