Honor for Bland Simpson
Bland Simpson, a creative writing professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, has been recognized for his significant contributions to North Carolina literature.
Simpson, a Bowman and Gordon Gray Distinguished Term Professor, received the R. Hunt Parker Memorial Award from the North Carolina Literary and Historical Association. The award is named for a former chief justice of the N.C. Supreme Court.
An author, songwriter and musician, Simpson has taught in UNC’s College of Arts and Sciences since 1982; he directed the creative writing program from 2002 to 2008. He also is a member of the Tony Award-winning string band The Red Clay Ramblers.
His books about North Carolina include “The Great Dismal: A Carolinian’s Swamp Memoir,” “Ghost Ship of Diamond Shoals: The Mystery of the Carroll A. Deering” and “The Inner Islands: A Carolinian’s Sound Country Chronicle.”
In 2005, Simpson received the North Carolina Award for Fine Arts. Rebecca Godwin, a professor of English at Barton College in Wilson and president-elect of the literary and historical association, called Simpson “a Tar Heel Renaissance man.”
He is “a writer and musician whose gift for storytelling transcends the page,” Godwin said. “In prose narratives, song lyrics and musical theater, he honors places and people, bringing their stories to life with the sparkle of a master artist.”
Abbott to read new work
Tony Abbott, the Dana Professor Emeritus of English at Davidson College, has recently compiled some of his previously published poems with 10 new ones in a volume titled “New and Selected: Poems 1989-2009,” published by Lorimer Press.
This dean of North Carolina literature, described by former North Carolina Poet Laureate Fred Chappell as “a celebrated, widely published and warmly appreciated poet,” will read from the new book on Sunday, Dec. 6, at 3 p.m. in Tyler-Tallman Hall of Sloan Music Center.
Charlotte writer and newspaper columnist Dannye Romine Powell will introduce Abbott at the event.
There is no charge to attend.
The book has received a starred review in the American Library Association’s Booklist magazine, and has been well received in the literary community.
Author Robert Morgan wrote, “The range and depth of Tony Abbott’s work are now clear. He is a dramatic poet, a narrative poet, a poet of love and meditations on kinship, mortality, change and memory. But rare among contemporary poetry, there is a vein of relish, human connection and joy coursing through Abbott’s poems.”
The new book is Abbott’s fifth volume of poetry. His first one, “The Girl in the Yellow Raincoat” (1989), was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. His 2005 volume, “The Man Who,” won the Oscar Arnold Young Award for best poetry book of the year from the Poetry Council of North Carolina. It consists of about 50 narrative poems about characters real and imagined that Abbott links with the first three words of their titles.
His other poetry volumes are “A Small Thing Like a Breath” and “The Search for Wonder in the Cradle of the World.”
He is also the author of two novels, the Novello Prize-winning “Leaving Maggie Hope” and its sequel “The Three Great Secret Things.”
He is president of the North Carolina Poetry Society, has been president of the Charlotte Writers Club and the North Carolina Writers Network, and has chaired the North Carolina Writers Conference.
Every year he teaches a seven-week poetry workshop at Queens University, and last spring taught fiction writing at Catawba College.