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North Carolina author Ron Rash, pictured above, was the keynote speaker for the 2011 Literary Homecoming at East Carolina University. (Contributed photo)

Literary Homecoming highlights North Carolina writers, filmmakers

Aug. 31, 2012

ECU News Services

East Carolina University will honor the region’s literary traditions Sept. 21 and 22 during the Ninth Annual Eastern North Carolina Literary Homecoming, presented by Joyner Library and the North Carolina Literary Review. The event will offer interactive workshops in addition to panel presentations.

Seven North Carolina writers and two filmmakers will discuss the translation of the written word into film during the event which has the theme, “Litflix: Adapting North Carolina Literature into Film.”

For nine years, the ENCLH has been nourishing and revitalizing the creative spirit for writers as the event provides a place where artists and community members can interact and share ideas. The works represented by the award-winning authors encompass a variety of genres including poetry, fiction, historical nonfiction, and drama and how they tie into Eastern North Carolina culture.

Each year, the Literary Homecoming kicks off with the presentation of the Roberts Award for Literary Inspiration. This year the award will be presented Sept. 21 to eastern North Carolina poet James Applewhite for his significant influence upon the literature of the state.

“The Roberts Award, named in honor of B.W.C. and Snow Roberts of Durham, is a fitting way to honor James Applewhite,” said Maury York, Joyner Library’s assistant director for special collections. York described Applewhite as an outstanding poet with deep roots in eastern North Carolina.

Also on Sept. 21, Timothy B. Tyson will speak about the film adaptation of his book “Blood Done Sign My Name” in a lecture on “Civil Rights Meets Silver Screen.”

On the second day of the event, several North Carolina writers whose literary works have been adapted into film will explore how film can both enhance and distract from the meaning of the written word. As Americans steadily turn away from reading and more toward cinema and television, the literary homecoming strives to reemphasize the value of the written word, while recognizing the value of visual media as a catalyst toward that end, said Margaret D. Bauer, Rives Chair of Southern Literature and editor of the North Carolina Literary Review.

The luncheon on Sept. 22 will feature a reading by Daniel Wallace, author of “Big Fish,” which was adapted into a 2003 feature film directed by Tim Burton and starring Ewan McGregor.

Award-winning author Charles Frazier will deliver the keynote session at 4 p.m. Sept 22. Frazier’s first novel, “Cold Mountain,” winner of the 1997 National Book Award, the 1997 W.D. Weatherford Award, and the 1998 Boeke Prize, was adapted in 2003 into a major motion picture that was nominated for seven Academy Awards. Frazier’s second novel, “Thirteen Moons,” was selected as the first literary work to be translated into the Cherokee language. His most recent novel is “Nightwoods.”

Bauer encourages everyone to “read poetry by James Applewhite and essays by Frazier and Tyson, as well as articles about other guest writers’ film adaptations, in the recently released 2012 issue of the North Carolina Literary Review and then join us at ECU to meet these literary stars in person.”

All events, except for the Sept. 22 author’s luncheon ($15) are free and open to the public. Visit the Homecoming online at, call 252-328-6514, or e-mail

* * *

Saturday, Sept. 22, Program of Events

All events will be held in Joyner Library

Registration    8-8:30 a.m.   
Opening Remarks  9-10:30 a.m. 
Panel: The Blockbuster, the Independent Film, and the Made-for-TV Movie:
Different Venues, Different Audiences Charles Frazier, Timothy Tyson and James Dodson: 

Some literary works make it to the silver screen, while others are enjoyed on the small screen in the comfort of our living rooms. Regardless of where a book’s visual adaptation is seen, a variety of audiences will experience the original stories, which may ultimately draw them to the books. Charles Frazier, author of “Cold Mountain,” will discuss the 2003 adaption of his bestselling novel. Timothy Tyson, author of “Blood Done Sign My Name,” will discuss how independent films, such as the one based on his book, can reach target audiences, even though they might have a limited viewership. James Dodson, author of “Faithful Travelers,” will discuss the book’s television adaptation, “Dodson’s Journey,” and its relationship to the book and its audience.

Workshop #1*
Writing Fiction for Youth Eleanora E. Tate: Tate will demonstrate how to create a story and present it in a manner that captures the attention of youth today.

10:45–12:15 pm.  
Workshop #2* Writing Memoir and Creative Nonfiction James Dodson: Dodson will demonstrate how to use storytelling prose to captivate readers while conveying memories and events from real life.

Workshop #3* Writing a Screenplay Daniel Wallace: Wallace will discuss using elements of screenwriting and artistic license when adapting a literary work for a film.

10:45–12 p.m.  
Panel: Pop(corn) Culture: How Youth Audiences Shape Literary and Film Industries Eleanora E. Tate and Lois Duncan:  Book and film audiences change with the times. Children’s and young adult audiences are no exception. With their increased exposure to films, television shows, and video games, children are immersed in visual media that reflect their changing world. Tate, author of “Just an Overnight Guest,” will discuss the artistic decisions that went into the adaptation of her children's book about sibling rivalry and jealousy into a heartwarming, award-winning TV movie. Duncan, author of “Hotel for Dogs,” will discuss adapting a humorous story into a full-length feature film. The authors will also discuss how these films can inspire children and young adults to read the books on which they are based.

12:30–2 p.m.      
Luncheon (in the Mendenhall Student Center)* Reading by Daniel Wallace, author of “Big Fish”

2-3:45 p.m.     
Panel: Short Stories into Short Films
Elisabeth Benfey, Dante James and Randall Kenan:  In this session, two filmmakers will discuss the decisions involved during adaptation, and a fiction writer will relate his reaction to having his writing adapted. Filmmaker James will screen and then discuss his adaptation of Charles Chesnutt’s “The Doll,” and Benfey will do the same for her Duke students’ film based on Kenan’s “The Foundations of the Earth.” Kenan will address his reaction to watching what were once images in his head – and then words on the page – become images on a screen. The panelists will also address audience questions.

2:15–3:45 p.m.        
Workshop #4* Poetry Writing Jeffrey Franklin:  North Carolina Literary Review poetry editor Jeffrey Franklin will conduct a poetry writing workshop in which he will help participants recognize the importance of the poetic line and the original (rather than clichéd) image –common problems he has seen in submissions to NCLR over the years. Participants will have a chance to hear others’ work and to interact with their peers in a workshop setting.

2:15–3:45 p.m.
Workshop #5* How to Build a Story Lois Duncan: Duncan will lead participants through the process of developing character and plot to keep the reader interested and focused on the story. Participants will have the opportunity to begin to write their own stories and receive feedback from both participants and the facilitator.

4 p.m.      
Talking with Charles Frazier, author of “Cold Mountain.”

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