with N.C. Award for Literature
it Shelby Stephenson's year.
The man who has
devoted a large part of his career publishing other North Carolina writers
is getting the recognition he richly deserves.
On Nov. 5, UNCP
English professor Shelby Stephenson was awarded the North Carolina Award
for Literature. It is the state's top honor for contributors to the
arts, science and public service.
"I don't know
what I can do to top this," the poet and editor of Pembroke Magazine
said. "I may have to start writing fiction and become famous."
Earlier this year,
- Was presented
the R. Hunt Parker Memorial Award for "significant lifetime contributions
to the literary heritage of North Carolina;"
- Was honored by
the N.C. Writer's Conference with a symposium on his work;
- Was awarded the
2001 UNC Board of Governor's Award for Teaching Excellence, and
- Published his
eighth book of poetry, "Fiddledeedee."
came to UNCP in 1978, continues to write every day, but rarely in prose,
"What if I
had become a famous hillbilly musician?" he laughs. "Do we
really want to deal with (fame)?"
poems celebrate his rural North Carolina heritage. The Johnston County
native believes that North Carolina's soil is fertile for raising writers
of all kinds, and he has dedicated himself for 22 years as editor of
Pembroke Magazine to nurturing them.
"I can't imagine
another state that has produced so many internationally known writers,"
No. 34, due out next spring, features Lumberton author Jill McCorkle,
and Robert Morgan will be the featured artist for No. 35. Morgan's book,
"Gap Creek," was a bestseller, but like many young North Carolina
writers, his early poetry found an audience in Stephenson's "little
Stephenson is not
so retiring that he does not enjoy a party, and North Carolina threw
a big party for him and his fellow honorees.
"Oh, it was
just wonderful," he said. "The ballroom was filled with people,
North Carolina Gov.
Mike Easley presented the 2001 awards to Stephenson for literature;
minister and civic leader W.W. Finlator for public service; bluegrass
musician and composer Arthur Smith for fine arts; to poet Kathryn Stripling
Byer for literature; to chemist Royce W. Murray in science and to former
Lt. Gov. Robert Jordan for public service.
The awards were
created in 1961 by the North Carolina General Assembly. Past award winners
in literature include McCorkle, Guy Owens, Reynolds Price, Paul Green,
Maya Angelou and Clyde Edgerton.
"It was a really
wonderful evening," Stephenson said. "It was a night for the
arts, sciences and public service, and it was a happy night for me."
N.C. Award recipients
will be featured on UNC TV's "Bill Friday's N.C. People" at
8:30 p.m., Friday, Nov. 23 and 5:30 p.m., Sunday, Nov. 25.
"This has been
an amazing year for me," Stephenson said.
It's not over yet.
The bard of Johnston County will offer the UNCP's commencement address
on Dec. 15.
to University Newswire