Contributing to Charlotte’s Literary Scene — Members of our English Department regularly contribute to the Charlotte area’s literary scene, but this past week our department shifted into overdrive. Members of our department made contributions to three separate literary events in the span of three days.
It all started on Thursday, November 1, with Verse & Vino, the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library Foundation’s annual celebration of literature. This gigantic fund-raising event takes place at the Charlotte Convention Center in the largest ballroom in the city. Setting up for this event is a tremendous challenge, but there is no challenge too big for our Angie Williams. This year, just as she has done for the past three years, Angie volunteered to help set up for Verse & Vino. I know the organizers who put Verse & Vino together, and they all commented to me on how valuable Angie’s help was in transforming the cavernous ballroom into a celebratory space.
The nonprofit North Carolina Writers’ Network, the state’s oldest and largest literary arts services organization, holds three annual conferences that bring together hundreds of writers from around “The Writingest State” for workshops, readings, and lively discussions in support of their mission statement that writing is “necessary both for self-expression and community spirit, that well-written words can connect people across time and distance, and that the deeply satisfying experiences of writing and reading should be available to everyone.” The network rotates conference locations, and Charlotte was the city for fall. Organizers reached out to UNC Charlotte Department of English to see if we would want to sponsor an event, which we did: a pre-conference “tailgate” open to all to kick off the weekend. I led writers in exercises focused on observation and memory intended to help them find material for their stories and poems as well as to sink into the writing mindset. Throughout the weekend, the conference offered myriad sessions focused on the craft and business of writing, as well as panels, social events, and readings, including a wonderful staged performance during the evening banquet. Paula Martinac presented a session on creating diverse characters, and I led one on dialogue and setting in fiction writing.
On Saturday, the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library Foundation held EpicFest, a free literary festival for children and their families that takes place at ImaginOn. I serve on the steering committee for this festival, but I was not the only member of our department who contributed to the success of this event. A number of the students from our English Learning Community volunteered. Several of our graduate students also volunteered, including Samantha Holt and Shannon Murphy. Moreover, Kelly Brabec, who recently graduated with an English major, volunteered for the third year in a row.
One of the reasons our English Department is able to play such important roles in supporting so many cultural events in the Charlotte community is that our department is itself an inclusive community that encompasses not just faculty members but also staff members, undergraduates, graduate students, and alumni. With such a large and diverse community, we have the people, expertise and willingness to help out with a wide variety of cultural projects and events.
Southeastern Renaissance Conference — The 75th annual meeting of the Southeastern Renaissance Conference (SRC) took place on October 19-20, 2018, at Queens University of Charlotte and the UNC Charlotte Center City campus. The conference was supported by the English Department and College of Arts and Sciences at Queens and by the UNC Charlotte English Department. Helen Hull from Queens University and Kirk Melnikoff served as the conference co-hosts. Both Kirk and Jen Munroe also presided over sessions at this conference.
Kudos — As you know, I like to use my Monday Missives to share news about recent accomplishments by members of the English Department. Here is the latest news:
JuliAnna Ávila‘s article titled “Compliant ‘Devices of Art’: Enlisting Dewey to Question Mandates” was just published in Teachers College Record.
Meghan Barnes recently wrote a piece about the women at the homeless shelter, and this story has been published on the Urban Ministries Center blog. You can check it out by clicking on the following link: https://www.urbanministrycenter.org/what-is-community/
Mark de Castrique, a graduate of our M.A. program, recently published a mystery novel titled Secret Undertaking.
Quirky Quiz Question — Veterans Day will take place on Sunday, November 11. What was the original name for this holiday?