The 2020 issue showcases North Carolina expatriate writers, ranging from Harriet Jacobs, who moved north to escape enslavement in North Carolina to Glenis Redmond, who developed her poetic voice during her years living here in North Carolina and now travels over 35,000 miles a year bringing poetry to the masses, thus earning the title Road Warrior Poet." Between, find essays on other writers with North Carolina roots: Charles Chesnutt, Tony Earley, Lionel Shriver, and Stephanie Powell Watts. Read retired Emory Professor/Goldsboro native Jim Grimsley’s interview with retired LSU Professor/Goldsboro native Moira Crone, featuring her own art. This interview was selected by Elaine Neil Orr to receive the 2020 John Ehle Prize. The issue’s cover art is by A.R. Ammons, an Eastern North Carolina poet who spent most of his career teaching at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY. Also interviewed: Durham native/novelist/California television writer Gwendolyn Parker; poet Allison Adelle Hedge Coke, from her current residence in Hawaii; longtime Texas resident Ben Fountain, talking about growing up in Eastern North Carolina; and Raleigh native Mary Robinette Kowal, recipient of the three biggest speculative fiction awards, the Hugo, Nebula, and Locus, for her novel The Calculating Stars.
Bringing up the oft-heard North Carolina remark, “You can’t throw a rock in this state without hitting a writer,” Editor Margaret Bauer notes, “It turns out that it might be dangerous for North Carolina writers if rocks are thrown anywhere, not just within the state’s borders. The Old North State seems a fertile starting point, even if some writers do not remain.” Despite these authors branching off to places far from Tar Heel soil, their writing roots are deep in North Carolina, and North Carolina has left its mark. The subject of one essay, Watts, for example, describes her novel as “The Great Gatsby
set in rural North Carolina.” And Hedge Coke says, “I am never really away from the land and waters there. ... Closing my eyes, [North Carolina] is always present.”
The Flashbacks section of the issue includes the 2019 James Applewhite Poetry Prize winner, “Meditation in a Glass House” by Wayne Johns; the other finalists selected for honors; and new poetry by the namesake of the award, James Applewhite, and former North Carolina Poet Laureate, Fred Chappell; the 2019 Doris Betts Fiction Prize winning short story “Something Coming” by Katey Schultz; the premiere Paul Green Prize essay by Rachel Warner about renowned author Zora Neale Hurston’s brief residence in North Carolina; and an interview with Charlotte writer/musician Jeff Jackson.