Sunday, September 13, 2009
I just returned from spending Saturday in Chapel Hill, NC, where I attended the North Carolina Literary Festival. I can't think of a more pleasant way to spend a beautiful day than on a university campus with readers and writers. The line-up was so chockful of good sessions that I would have missed lunch altogether if Rick Bragg hadn't called in sick.
In some ways, this felt like Old Home Week, seeing writers whose work I have loved and with whom I have spent time during NCETA conferences and local readings--Ron Rash, Allan Gurganus, Fred Chappell, and Robert Morgan to name a few. They managed a nice blend of poetry and fiction, established authors as well as writers experiences success with first novels. (I have decided that I would love to have Allan Gurganus deliver my eulogy. He does the most beautiful job of introducing other writers, particularly those he has known as their writing careers were blossoming.)
Added to my reading list are The Wet Nurse's Tale by Erica Eisdorfer (manager of the on-campus bookstore), Shadow Box by poet Fred Chappell, and Abide with Me by Pulitzer-Prize winner Elizabeth Strout. On Saturday evening Strout charmed a packed house as she read from and talked about Olive Kitteridge, on my short list of favorites this year.
We wound up the day with a performance of Good Old Girls with Jill McCorkle and Lee Smith delivering the different monologues while Marshall Chapman and Matraca Berg performed their original music. Everything was pitch perfect, as the audience warmed up to four women who were so obviously having a large old time.
I known other states lay claim to successful writers, wonderful poets and novelists, but I can't imagine anywhere in the world that literary life flourishes as it does here in my adopted state or where writers are so generous with their time and their encouragement.