Rost Post contest prize winner named

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 25, 2011

ěThereís No Crying in a Tobacco Field,î a personal essay by a former Wayne County ětobacco kid,î won top honors in the 2011 Rose Post Creative Nonfiction Competition, sponsored by the North Carolina Writersí Network.
Pepper Capps Hill, who now lives in Rocky Point, wrote the winning essay. Author Jay Varner, the judge of this yearís contest, praised Hillís essay for its ědetails as crisp as one of those fresh tobacco leaves.î
ěThis essay took me into a world I barely knew ó a North Carolina tobacco field ó and taught me something,î Varner said. ěThe writer effortlessly weaves together a personal narrative about working as a ëtobacco kidí in the fields and the chilling research about the unseen health hazards thousands of children surely suffered. Here is a piece wrestling with the hard lessons learned plucking leaves from the field and long-term medical concerns these former tobacco kids could face.î
Both Hill and her husband grew up in tobacco-farming families. A graduate of the University of North Carolina Wilmington, Hill is a museum educator at the Cape Fear Museum of History and Science.
Davidson writer Cynthia Lewis won second and third place for her essays ěThat Dress, That Hatî and ěSecret Sharing: Coming Out in Charleston.î Of the first, Varner said, ěWe hear all sorts of stories about identity theft today, but hereís a different sort of identity theft ó literally taking over someone elseís life. This is emotionally raw, messy and, most importantly, doesnít hold back. At the end, the narrator transcends this personal material and exposes something deeper and haunting about human nature.î
Varner described ěSecret Sharingî as ěa mix of good storytelling, old-fashioned gumption, and a mission to uncover something true. Nonfiction like this requires a writer to dive headfirst into a subject and peel back the layers.î Lewis teaches Shakespeare, Renaissance literature and creative nonfiction at Davidson College.
Varner is the author of ěNothing Left to Burnî and the former managing editor of Ecotone. He now lives with his wife near Charlottesville, Va., where he teaches adult and high school students.
Sponsored by the NCWN and administered by the creative writing department at University of North Carolina at Wilmington, the Rose Post Creative Nonfiction Competition encourages the creation of lasting nonfiction work that is outside the realm of conventional journalism. The contest is open to any legal resident of North Carolina or member of the NC Writersí Network. First-, second-, and third-place winners receive $300, $200, and $100, respectively, and the winning entry is considered for publication in the magazine Southern Cultures.
Post was a longtime columnist and reporter at the Salisbury Post, retiring after 56 years of work.
The nonprofit North Carolina Writersí Network is our stateís oldest and largest literary arts services organization devoted to writers at all stages of development. For more information, visit