ECU’s Joyner Library hosts 8th literary homecoming

East Carolina University honors the region’s literary traditions Sept. 23 and 24 with the annual Eastern North Carolina Literary Homecoming, presented by Joyner Library and the “North Carolina Literary Review." The event will offer interactive workshops and panel presentations.

This year’s theme, “Rewriting Nature: Impacting Change in the Environment,” will focus on “human encounters with the environment as well as the impact that nature has on us, including our personal responses to and philosophical interpretations of nature,” according to Literary Homecoming organizers.
Award-winning author and Western Carolina University professor Ron Rash will delivery the keynote address at the Literary Homecoming. (Photo courtesy of Western Carolina University)

For eight years, the Eastern North Carolina Literary Homecoming 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, creative nonfiction, and drama and how they tie into North Carolina culture.

This year, the Literary Homecoming will kick off Sept. 23 with the presentation of the Roberts Award for Literary Inspiration to Bland Simpson, a professor in the creative writing program at UNC-Chapel Hill, for his significant influence upon the literature of North Carolina, his contribution to musical theatre, and his unfailing support of the coastal region of our state. The presentation to Simpson will include tributes by Jerry Leath Mills and music by Don Dixon and Marti Jones.

On Sept. 24, artists whose work “delves into our interactions with the world around us will discuss what role literature and art do and must play in order to impact a social awareness and make our relationship with the environment more balanced.” Time will allow for audience members to interact directly with authors to explore issues raised in the sessions, and audience members can also talk with the authors during book signings.

“The Eastern North Carolina Literary Homecoming, now in its 8th year, provides an extraordinary opportunity for the ECU family and area residents to meet regional authors ‘up close and personal,’” said Dr. Larry Boyer, dean of Academic Library and Learning Resources. “You can hear them talk about their work, the writing process, and their careers in a very comfortable setting, Joyner Library.”

A luncheon with guest speaker Zelda Lockhart, author of “Fifth Born” and “Cold Running Creek,” will be held Saturday. After serving a term as the Piedmont Laureate, Lockhart is working on a new novel, lecturing, and conducting writing workshops. She lives in Hillsborough.

Award-winning author Ron Rash will deliver the keynote address at 3:15 p.m. Saturday. Author of “One Foot in Eden,” “Saints at the River” and “Serena,” his fiction and poetry are centered mainly on the Appalachian region where his family has lived since the mid-18th century. “Serena” received the 2009 Sir Walter Raleigh Award in Fiction from the Historical Book Club of N.C. and the N.C. Literary and Historical Association.

“As NCLR celebrates publishing our 20th issue, we are excited to partner with the Literary Homecoming and bring North Carolina writers from our issues’ pages to ECU,” said Dr. Margaret D. Bauer, Rives Chair of Southern Literature and editor of the North Carolina Literary Review.

Other presenters include David Gessner, an associate professor of English at UNC-Wilmington, who also edits the national literary journal Ecotone, and poet and recipient of the North Carolina Award for literature Gerald Barrax, who is a retired professor of English in creative writing at NCSU.

All events, except for Saturday’s luncheon ($15), are free and open to the public. For more information, visit the Homecoming online at, call 252-328-6514, or e-mail

2011 Program of events

Friday, Sept. 23 

7 p.m.: Roberts Award for Literary Inspiration presentation to Bland Simpson
with tributes and music by Jerry Leath Mills, Don Dixon, and Marti Jones

Saturday, Sept. 24

8–9 a.m.: Registration

9–9:15 a.m.: Opening remarks

9:15–10:15 a.m.: Plenary Session: A Writer’s Role:  Can Nature Writing Affect Social Awareness with Ron Rash, Jan DeBlieu and David Gessner. Poet and fiction writer Ron Rash, Outer Banks Coastkeeper Jan Deblieu and founding editor of Ecotone David Gessner, all environmental writers, will discuss whether writing can affect social awareness about environmental issues, how they decide what issues to write about and whether they strive to impact change with their writing.

10:15–10:30 a.m.: Book signing

10:30–11:45 a.m.:

Workshop #1:  Character and Plot Development with Zelda Lockhart. The novelist will show attendees how to draw from the environment around them in order to shape their writing. 

Workshop #2:  Writing Fiction: An Acknowledgment of Nature with Ron Rash. In this workshop, Rash will explain how literature can be used to help us notice the world around us. Participants will be directed on how to use environment as a character in their work. By emphasizing the nature in fiction writing, Rash will help participants raise awareness of the environment through their writing.

10:30–11 a.m.: Revisioning Nature: Painting the Picture with Photography with Rob Amberg.  Photographer Rob Amberg’s books, “Sodom Laurel Album” and “The New Road,” address place and land use in Madison County. His interest has been documenting change in our country–demographic, environmental, social, economic–over the course of his almost 40 years in North Carolina. He presents his findings with photographs, oral history and his own prose. 

11-11:15 a.m.: Book signing

11:15-11:45 a.m.
: Poetry reading by Gerald W. Barrax

12-1:30 p.m.: Author luncheon with fiction reading by Zelda Lockhart. Registration required.
1:45-3:15 p.m.: Workshop # 3: Environmental Poetry. Gerald W. Barrax will work closely with several participants before and during the event. During the workshop, Barrax will offer feedback and guidance on their pre-submitted environmental poetry.
1:45-3 p.m.: Closing Plenary Session–Changing Landscapes: The Transformation in Landscape and Lives featuring Jan DeBlieu, David Gessner and Rob Amberg. DeBlieu, writes often about the Outer Banks and how we are shaped by the landscapes where we work and live. Gessner writes about the impact of environmental issues on the community and the people who live there. Amberg has illustrated through photography the impact of “development” on the environment. This is an “open mic” session where the speakers will respond to audience questions/comments about issues raised throughout the day, the role of the environment in people’s lives, and how a transformation in environment affects the lives and livelihood of its residents.

2-3:15 p.m.: Book signing

3:15-4 p.m.: Keynote: Ron Rash, author of “Serena.”

For more information, contact Dawn Wainwright, marketing director, at or 252-328-4090.

# # #
Untitled Document