Craven Arts Council’s Pulitzer-worthy Ekphrastic (Art-Inspired) Poetry was a huge success. The program involved a physical and virtual gallery exhibit, a poetry competition, a reading/presentation, and the publication of this book. Combined, the events reached an audience of 4,126 people, including some youth poets, and another 8,141 virtually.
In conjunction with their Juried Show, Craven Arts Council and Gallery (CACG) presented Pulitzer-worthy Ekphrastic (Art-Inspired) Poetry, a 2-month initiative that invited poets from across the state to write and submit poems in response to an art piece in CACG’s Juried show. Poets could view the show online or at the gallery and were encouraged to utilize CAC&G’s online resources in creating their poem, including a recording of 2008 Pulitzer Winner for Poetry Rae Armantrout discussing her winning collection, Versed. Pulitzer-finalist poet Alan Shapiro served as judge for the contest. On November 11, the Gallery conducted an evening of readings to an audience of approximately 100 people. The readings included art-inspired poetry created by community children and adults, as well as readings of Pulitzer Prize winning poetry from Gregory Pardlo (2015) and Elizabeth Bishop (1956).
Faith in Literature, A Festival of Contemporary Writers of the Spirit was a great success. Presented in collaboration with UNC Asheville and the Wake Forest University School of Divinity, this two-day event gathered 11 writers whose collective work deeply engages faith tradition or spiritual practice. About 70 people attended Pulitzer Prize-winning Isabel Wilkerson’s reading at 4pm and the 7pm open production of NPR’s “On Being” with Krista Tippett. Tippett, broadcaster and The New York Times best-selling author, moderated a conversation with Wilkerson recorded for her Peabody Award-winning public radio broadcast and podcast.
PANEL: The panel highlighted the important role that new media, cartoons, satire, and documenting the Latino population explosion have played in disrupting what panelist Eric Freedman calls “the American story imaginary,” the nostalgic Southern narrative and its contrasting darker side. He explained that this story reflects the larger national narrative that new media “normalizes.” Panelists pointed out how to move the narrative forward through “consciousness raising.” Rodrigo Dorfman’s work focuses on human dignity, beauty, and perseverance instead of only tragedy. Mark West showed how through “Kudzu," Doug Marlette used humor instead of confrontation to highlight issues and refused to reduce people to caricatures. Kevin Siers explained that satirists and cartoonists tell “little lies that expose a larger truth.” Rodrigo said “reality is up for grabs all the time,” a point panelists reaffirmed by showing how the disruption inherent in new media leads to awareness, the possibility of action and change.
KEYNOTE: Dr. Eric Freedman described how the story of the South is so engrained in American psyche that it’s difficult to establish a new narrative. He questioned the stories that will be told about Charlotte in light of recent events. Freedman said social media disrupt the traditional Southern narrative by creating a space for personal stories that “don’t easily fit as stand-ins for testaments of a community.” New media, he said, erode individual and community knowledge because personal experience is constantly reframed. He drew attention to the complicated power dynamics of space and parallels between loss of space and narration. For example, power structures define cities as a unified whole while reality may be different. To change the narrative of the South, we need unilateral access to digital means and media/news literacy: “Open data is only impactful if people know what to do with the data to impact change,” Freedman said. We will know the narrative has changed when all citizens are digitally competent and use digital means to address the systemic issues and transform their cities.
In Burnsville on September 10, approximately 250 attended the Carolina Mountains Literary Festival’s Pulitzer NC keynote with David Haskell. Amber Westall Briggs, project coordinator from AMY regional libraries said “David Haskell was a tremendous speaker and such a fantastic end to a wonderful, wonderful weekend! He was so impressive. Just amazing that a biologist could capture our attention like he did- he really is a poet.”
The Pulitzer NC Bookmarks event on September 10, featuring two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning author Alan Taylor, was a great success. More than 100 attended the reading at the popular annual festival in Winston-Salem, NC.
Taylor has a gift for bringing history to life. He offered the audience context for his work before reading from his latest book, American Revolutions: A Continental History, 1750-1804. Afterward, Taylor captivated the audience with detailed stories in response to their questions. He covered topics as diverse as the role of women, American Indians, indentured white laborers from Europe, and African Americans in the American revolutions, and the evolution of the thoughts of America as a republic.
The second of 19 public events celebrating the centennial of the Pulitzer Prizes was another great success. Almost 200 people attended the staged reading of Paul Green's 1927 Pulitzer Prize-winning play In Abraham's Bosom, which focuses on the difficult life of an African American farmer in North Carolina trying to start a school for African Americans. This is the first time the play has been performed in the Southeast. The performance took place Monday, April 4th at the Paul Green Theatre at UNC Chapel Hill, Green's alma-mater. Former NCHC trustee and African American Studies scholar Reginald Hildebrand and Paul Green scholar Laurence Avery guided an informative post-performance question and answer session, focusing on the play's themes and their relevance today. Thank you to Marian Fragola, Raheem Aleem, Carol Vorhaus and other trustees who attended.
The Charlotte Observer:
• 3 Pulitzer-winning cartoonists discussed in program at UNCC uptown center
• Behind the scenes, skewering those in power can be a serious business
• Observer’s Kevin Siers to talk about his art and craft
Click Here to See the article on charlotteobserver.com