Old and New Friends in Charlotte

We had a wonderful trip to Charlotte, NC this past week, where I read my prizewinning story at the monthly meeting of the Charlotte Writers’ Club. Many thanks to contest coordinator Annie Maier, president Richard Taylor (editor of the Kakalak Anthology of Carolina Poets), and other club officers for making me feel like a queen for a day. My tech-savvy but overworked husband made a video of the reading, which I will post here as soon as I can prevail upon him to extract it from the camcorder.

The featured speaker at the meeting was poet and novelist Karon Luddy, another past winner of the CWC’s short story contest, who read a touching and hilarious excerpt from her new book Spelldown. Set in a South Carolina mill town in 1969, this novel follows a quirky, brilliant adolescent girl who is determined to win a national spelling bee, while coping with her father’s alcoholism. I am looking forward to reading my signed copy.

Karon also read from her poetry book Wolf Heart and discussed how an author goes about choosing the right point of view for a story or poem. Her novel, for instance, was originally written in third-person past tense, but ended up in first-person present tense, because the heroine had such a strong personality that she wanted to tell her own story. Somehow my own novel has ended up with two first-person narrators, a third-person omniscient narrator, and poems by two other characters. Is this merely a sign that I can’t make up my mind, or am I the next Dos Passos? Time will tell.

The day after the reading, M. Scott Douglass gave us a tour of his one-man publishing operation, the esteemed poetry press Main Street Rag. Scott is a craftsman as well as a writer, taking as much pride in his skilled operation of precision machinery as in his literary achievements. He works hard to produce high-quality books at affordable prices. Some of my favorite MSR poetry books are Stacey Waite’s Love Poem to Androgyny , Richard Vargas’ McLife, and Anthony S. Abbott’s The Man Who. MSR runs several annual contests that are listed on their website; many runners-up are also published, more than is typical for a manuscript contest.

One Charlotte writer I didn’t have the chance to meet is John Amen, but this seems like a good time to put in another plug for his work, anyhow. He has a series of fine poems in the new issue of the e-zine Mannequin Envy. John edits The Pedestal Magazine, an online journal of art and literature.

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