Upcoming Literary Events: Winter-Spring 2019

Here at Charlotte Lit, we’re excited about our ongoing Beautiful Truth initiative, with community writing workshops every weekend in January, a February 1 & 2 visit from poet Terrance Hayes, AND a community public reading event in March. But we’re not the only ones lining up excellent literary events for this new year.

Up this week, Queens University’s MFA faculty holds two readings that are free and open to the public. Local favorites Judy Goldman and Tommy Tomlinson each have new memoirs coming out in the next two months. Pulitzer Prize winning newspaper columnist Leonard Pitts holds a reading coordinated by Park Road Books. As part of their Community Read, the library hosts Angie Thomas, author of The Hate U Give. All of this and we haven’t even mentioned the UNCC Center City Literary Festival and the Sensoria Festival at CPCC. Take a look at this event listing and invite your friends to join you in celebrating the literary arts in Charlotte.

Tuesday, January 8 at 5 pm – Queens University MFA Faculty Readings: Morri Creech and Jenny Offill, Ketner Auditorium, Sykes Building

Writer in Residence Morri Creech is author of four collections of poetry, including his latest, Blue Rooms, and The Sleep of Reason, a 2014 finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. Fiction Writer Jenny Offill is author of the novels Dept. of Speculation and Last Things, which was chosen as a notable or best book of the year by The New York Times, The Village Voice, The L.A. Times, and The Guardian (U.K). Sponsored by The Arts at Queens.

Friday, January 11 at 8:30 pm – Queens University MFA Faculty Readings: David Christensen and Marcus Jackson, Ketner Auditorium, Sykes Building

David Christensen is the Executive Producer of the National Film Board of Canada. Poet Marcus Jackson is author of the recently released collection Pardon My Heart. A Cave Canem fellow, he is also author of the collection Neighborhood Register, and his work has appeared in The New Yorker, Harvard Review and The Cincinnati Review. Sponsored by The Arts at Queens.

Tuesday, January 22, 2018  at 7:30 pm – Davidson College Abbott Scholars Event: Chris Hudgins “From Davidson to Stockholm,” Lilly Family Gallery

Chris Hudgins will discuss Tony Abbott as a mentor, a “Scholar Adventurer” who led Hudgins to his life’s work, to a love of the plays of Harold Pinter and many other dramatists. Hudgins will focus on his scholarly and personal experiences with Harold Pinter (Nobel Laureate, 2005) and on three of the unpublished film scripts Pinter provided Hudgins during their twenty-four-year friendship: The Handmaid’s Tale, The Remains of the Day, and Lolita.

Thursday, January 24 at 7:30 pm – Queen University: Novelist Jeff Jackson, Ketner Auditorium, Sykes Building

The English Department Reading Series presents local author Jeff Jackson, who will read from his mesmerizing novel Destroy All Monsters, a book that’s been called a “taut, atmospheric rock and roll thriller.” His previous novel Mira Corpora was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. Admission is free and open to the public. Sponsored by The Arts at Queens. Info

Thursday, January 31 at 7 pm – Main Street Books, Davidson: Tommy Tomlinson

Tommy Tomlinson is a household name in the Charlotte area due to his profoundly enjoyable podcast “Southbound,” which he records in partnership with WFAE. Between recording sessions, Tomlinson has written for Esquire, ESPN the Magazine, Sports Illustrated, Forbes, Garden & Gun, and other publications. Written with the same insight and mesmerizing tone that have catapulted “Southbound” to the top of many podcast playlists, Tommy Tomlinson’s memoir The Elephant in the Room is a searing, honest, and candid exploration of what it’s like to live as an overweight man in a growing America. Info

Friday February 1 & 2, Beautiful Truth at Charlotte Lit

Charlotte Lit is thrilled to bring Terrance Hayes to our city as part of our Beautiful Truth Initiative. Hayes is the author of American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assassin, a finalist for the 2018 National Book Award in Poetry; Lighthead, which won the 2010 National Book Award for poetry; and other works. He is artist-in-residence at New York University, and is a MacArthur “Genius” Award Recipient.

  • Friday, February 1 from 7-8:30 pm: Terrance Hayes Reading and Talk, Midwood International and Cultural Center Auditorium.

Hayes will discuss using personal narratives to share our stories; and we’ll also celebrate the release of the quarterly 4X4CLT poetry+art posters, featuring poetry by Terrance Hayes and art by Susan Brenner and J. Stacy Utley. Tickets

  • Saturday, February 2 from 10 am to Noon: Writing Workshop 

Led by Terrance Hayes for writers and educators, in the Charlotte Lit studio. Limited to 24 participants. SOLD OUT.

  • Saturday, February 2 from 2-4 pm: Community Conversation about sharing stories for social change, facilitated by Terrance Hayes in The Light Factory. Free, but limited to 40 participants. To request an invitation, email kathie@charlottelit.org.

Wednesday, February 6 at 4:30 pm, Davidson College: Chelsea Hodson, Hance Auditorium/Chambers Building

Chelsea Hodson is the author of the book of essays, Tonight I’m Someone Else, and the chapbook, Pity the Animal. She is a graduate of the MFA program at Bennington College and has been awarded fellowships from MacDowell Colony and PEN Center USA Emerging Voices. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times MagazineFrieze Magazine, Black Warrior Review, and elsewhere. She teaches at Catapult in New York and at Mors Tua Vita Mea in Sezze Romano, Italy.

Thursday, February 7 at 7 pm: Leonard Pitts, Jr., “Last Thing You Surrender,” Park Road Books (check event listing, venue may change)

In a career spanning more than 35 years, Leonard Pitts, Jr. has been a columnist, a college professor, a radio producer and a lecturer. He is the author of one of the most popular newspaper columns in the country for which he was awarded the 2004 Pulitzer Prize for commentary; and of a series of critically-acclaimed books, including his latest, a novel called Freeman.

Thursday, February 7 at 6 pm: An Evening with Tommy Tomlinson, ImaginOn

Charlotte Mecklenburg Library Foundation and WFAE are pleased to celebrate the release of Tommy Tomlinson’s inspirational memoir The Elephant in the Room: One Fat Man’s Quest to Get Smaller in a Growing America. Tommy will speak and take questions about his experience and his writing.

The evening will begin with wine and light bites, and Park Road Books will be on-site with books for sale before and after the program. This event is free, but seating is limited, RSVP required.

Monday and Tuesday, March 4 & 5, Friends of the Library at Queens University: Cocktail Reception and Luncheon.

This year’s featured authors are Marie Benedict whose book The Only Woman in the Room is a powerful novel based on the incredible true story of Hedy Lamarr, and Tim Johnston whose thriller debut novel Descent was a New York Times bestseller.

Sunday, March 3 from 2-4 pm, Charlotte Lit’s Third Birthday Celebration, Mint Museum on Randolph Road, featuring Judy Goldman, author of the memoir Together (Nan A. Talese). (More details to come.)

Friday, March 15 from 7-9 pm, Charlotte Lit’s Beautiful Truth Community Public Reading Event, Midwood International and Cultural Center Auditorium. Beautiful Truth participants from all over Charlotte will read short narratives written and shared during library workshops. Free, registration required.

Tuesday, March 19: Angie Thomas, ImaginOn

As part of Charlotte Mecklenburg Library’s community-wide book club known as Community Read, Angie Thomas, author of The Hate U Give, speaks at ImaginOn. Each year, the library chooses book titles for adults, teens, preteens and children, and invites everyone in the community to engage in Community Read.

Saturday, March 30: UNCC’s Center City Literary Festival

The evening author lineup includes Tony Earley, Hannah Dela Cruz Abrams, Patrice Gopo, and Allison Hutchcraft. The day events and authors will be finalized soon. Sponsored by the UNC Charlotte Department of English and UNC Charlotte Center City, the two-part festival includes daytime and nighttime events. The day events include children’s authors along with fun kids’ activities such as creation stations (coloring, crafting, and character-building) and scavenger hunts. In the evening, the festival welcomes award-winning authors for a reception, readings, book signings, and socializing. All events are held at UNC Charlotte’s Center City Campus, 320 E. 9th Street. The event is free and open to the public. Info

Thursday, April 4 at 7:30 pm: Jason Ockert, Davidson College, 900 Room

Jason Ockert is the author of Wasp Box, a novel, and two collections of short stories: Neighbors of Nothing and Rabbit Punches. Winner of the Dzanc Short Story Collection Contest, the Atlantic Monthly Fiction Contest, and the Mary Roberts Rinehart Award, he was also a finalist for the Shirley Jackson Award and the Million Writers Award. His work has appeared in journals and anthologies including Best American Mystery Stories, Cover Stories, Ecotone, The Iowa Review, Oxford American, One Story, and McSweeney’s. He received his MFA from Syracuse University, and he teaches at Coastal Carolina University in Conway, South Carolina, and in the University of Tampa low-residency MFA program.

April 5 – 14: Sensoria Festival at CPCC

Monday April 8 at 6 pm: The Irene Blair Honeycutt Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Literary Arts, awarded to poet, novelist, and memoirist Judy Goldman. Dannye Romine Powell will interview Goldman, who will also read excerpts from her new memoir, Together (Nan A. Talese, Feb. 2019).

Tuesday April 9 at 8 pm, and Wednesday April 10, 11:30 am: Carolyn Forche, 2019 Irene Blair Honeycutt Distinguished Lecturer, Halton Theatre, Central Campus

What You Have Heard is True (March 2019) is a devastating, lyrical, and visionary memoir about a young woman’s brave choice to engage with horror in order to help others. Written by one of the most gifted poets of her generation, this is the story of a woman’s radical act of empathy, and her fateful encounter with an intriguing man who changes the course of her life. (from Random House)

Thursday April 11 at 11 am, Tate Hall, CPCC Central Campus and Thursday April 11 at  7:30 pm, Goodyear Arts: Poet Hanif Abdurraqib

Hanif Abdurraqib presents poetry and prose, including work from his new chronicle Go Ahead in the Rain: Notes to A Tribe Called Quest which received a starred review in Kirkus.

Sunday April 28, Main Street Books Davidson: Charles Frazier, author of Varina and Cold Mountain, in conversation with D.G. Martin (location TBD).

Announcing Charlotte Lit’s Beautiful Truth Initiative

We created Charlotte Lit because we believe literature is one of the most important means for understanding ourselves, our relationships, and our world, and we wanted to find ways of sharing literary experiences of all kinds with the Charlotte community. This January, we launch the Beautiful Truth program, one of our biggest and most important initiatives.

The program is based on the simple idea that writing and sharing our stories can heal us. That may sound lofty, but what I know is that writing is the best tool any of us have for talking about the things that matter most—in life, in relationships, in community. Healing comes when we’re able to share our experiences, hearts, and truths with one another. Healing comes when we listen. And when we’re heard.

Beautiful Truth is Charlotte Lit’s response to the racial strife and income disparity that have intensified in Charlotte over the last few years. It’s a simple program that brings people from all over the city together into small groups for workshops aimed at developing skills for writing and sharing with one another short personal narratives about our personal lives and life in this community.

These public workshops, held in January, will be followed in February with a weekend of readings and community conversations with renowned poet and speaker Terrance Hayes, and in March by a community-wide open-mic reading event. We hope you’ll join us for all three phases of the program, and encourage others to come, too. Event details are outlined below, but first some background on the impetus for Beautiful Truth.

Imagining a Beautiful Truth

More than forty years ago, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school system began what was considered a model for successful racial integration. That model lasted until 2001 when the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned Charlotte’s race-based student assignment plan. Though school desegregation hadn’t solved Charlotte’s woes––social stratification and poverty being complex issues with multiple causes––it had done something critically important: it put an entire generation of students into learning communities in which black and white students, teachers, and parents related to one another and, to some degree, developed a common narrative about their experience as Charlotteans. Fifteen years later, with our neighborhoods still and our schools again segregated, almost every week brings a new headline that begins, “Charlotte is a tale of two cities.”

Of course, like any large city, Charlotte has many more than two tales to tell. We are individuals with unique experiences and different ways of seeing our hometown. For many, Charlotte is a shining New South city, a banking town with state-of-the-art stadiums and shopping malls––a wonderful place to live, work, and raise a family. But, if we speak the truth, beauty isn’t a reality for everyone.

As national coverage of protests following the killing by police of Keith Scott made clear, too many Charlotteans experience a community in which marginalization, poverty, and criminal profiling are the norm. Too many of us experience the challenge of surviving in a place where chances of moving out of poverty hover at four percent, dead last among America’s fifty largest cities. These stories are true and need to be heard, but they need not become stories rewritten weekly with fresh examples. We can write a new future for ourselves—and for our community.

Telling Our Stories

The good news is that this kind of writing doesn’t require any expertise. All that’s necessary are some basic writing skills and the willingness to sit down with pencil and paper and listen—first to yourself and then to your neighbors.

Personally, I don’t know what I truly think or feel about any event, concept, or idea until I’ve written about it. Writing clarifies. It forces me to dig a little deeper into my topic, to be more honest with myself.  And doing so, allows me to make connections I couldn’t otherwise make. Even better, when I read my writing to others, I sense that they “hear” me better than they might in ordinary conversation. Likewise, I hear better when I’m listening to someone read their writing. Our written stories simply have more weight.

We can share so much with each other about the deepest truths of our experiences by taking a couple of minutes to reflect and string a few sentences into a paragraph. And those of us who live together in Charlotte have a lot to share. I sure hope you’ll participate in some part, or all of, Beautiful Truth. We need your story; it’s an essential part of the Charlotte story.

Beautiful Truth Events

Community Writing Workshops

Charlotte Lit faculty and volunteers will teach 12 free 2-hour workshops: “Writing & Sharing Your Personal Stories,” each held at a Charlotte Mecklenburg Library branch. Our volunteer writers will lead you through a series of activities that will help you to discover, write, and speak stories of your life in Charlotte, from curriculum created by author Patrice Gopo.

2-4 pm; Saturday, Jan. 5 — Scaleybark; Beatties Ford

2-4 pm; Sunday, Jan. 6 — University City; South County

2-4 pm; Saturday, Jan. 12 — Matthews; Plaza Midwood

2-4 pm; Sunday, Jan. 13 — Main

2-4 pm; Saturday, Jan. 19 — Davidson

2-4 pm; Sunday, Jan. 20 — Independence

2-4 pm; Saturday, Jan. 26 — Morrison; Mint Hill

2-4 pm; Sunday, Jan. 27 — Main

Seating is limited; pre-registration is requested for these events. Please register in person at the library branch, or by phone (numbers are available here: https://www.cmlibrary.org/branches).

Weekend with Poet and Speaker Terrance Hayes

Terrance Hayes

Charlotte Lit is thrilled to welcome Terrance Hayes to our city. Hayes is the author of American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assassins, a finalist for the 2018 National Book Award in Poetry; To Float In The Space Between: Drawings and Essays in Conversation with Etheridge Knight; How to Be Drawn; Lighthead, which won the 2010 National Book Award for poetry; Muscular Music, which won the Kate Tufts Discovery Award; Hip Logic, winner of the 2001 National Poetry Series, and Wind in a Box. Hayes is artist-in-residence at New York University, and is a MacArthur “Genius” Award Recipient.

7-8:30 pm, Friday, Feb. 1: Reading and talk on using personal narratives to share our stories. Midwood International and Cultural Center Auditorium. This event includes the release of the next 4X4CLT Poetry+Art Posters, featuring poetry by Terrance Hayes. Tickets available here.

10 am-Noon, Saturday, Feb. 2: Writing workshop led by Terrance Hayes for writers and educators in the Charlotte Lit studio. Limited to 24 participants. Registration is here.

2-4 pm, Saturday, Feb. 2: Community conversation about sharing stories for social change, facilitated by Terrance Hayes in The Light Factory. Free, but limited to 40 participants. To request an invitation, email us. (Due to demand, not all requests can be accommodated.)

Community Open-Mic Reading Event

7-9 pm, Friday, March 15 at Midwood International and Cultural Center.

Beautiful Truth participants from all over Charlotte will read short narratives written and shared during library workshops. Free, registration required.

Thank You…

We are so grateful for the support of our Charlotte Lit community in making these events happen: Author Patrice Gopo for writing a beautiful curriculum for use during the community writing workshops; Cathia Friou for organizing our wonderful team of volunteer workshop facilitators; 20 volunteer workshop facilitators; and our friends at the Charlotte Mecklenburg library for making space, handling registrations, and enthusiastically hosting workshops at branches throughout Charlotte.

We’re also grateful to all of our donors. Charlotte Lit’s Beautiful Truth initiative is made possible in part with generous grants from NC Arts, The Plain Language Group, and Brooke and Justin Lehmann. We’re still seeking additional donors. Can your organization help? If so, please contact kathie@charlottelit.org or paul@charlottelit.org.

Learn, Connect, Enjoy: Making the Most of the NCWN Fall Conference

The fall conference of the North Carolina Writers’ Network returns to Charlotte this year—November 2-4 at Hilton Charlotte University—so we have tips for those who are attending (or still thinking about it). There are deadlines in here, so read on down.


Select Workshops in Advance. One sure way to know if you’ll receive a good value for your money and time is to review all five workshop time slots (three on Saturday and two on Sunday) and make your selections in advance.

Bonus tip: choose a backup workshop for each time slot, too. Sometimes you realize once a session is underway that it’s not for you. It’s OK to slip out and try another one.

Carefully Consider the Extras. This conference has extra options that might fit you. Manuscript Mart and Critique Service are 30-minute feedback sessions on 20 pages of your manuscript—the former with a literary agent or publisher, the latter with an accomplished writer. Master Classes are all day on Saturday, taking the place of the three workshop slots. The cost is just $30 extra—although it’s a small gamble, because that’s the reading fee, non-refundable if you’re not placed in one.

Bonus tip: Deadlines for all these are this Friday, October 19.

Save Money. The conference is a great bargain if you register by October 26 (you’ll save almost $200). If you’re not a NCWN member, join! Membership plus the member rate for the conference is less than the nonmember rate.

Bonus tip: If you don’t need a hotel room, you save even more. NCWN’s fall conference rotates here only every four or five years, so this is your best chance for awhile.


Meet New People. The classes are generally excellent, yet meeting writers from across the Carolinas might be the best part. Try sitting with new people at meals, and saying hello to people at break times. Here’s a sure-fire way to break the ice, even if you’re an introvert: ask “where do you live?” and “what kind of writing do you do?”

Bonus tip: Take names. If you meet someone you’d like to be in touch with again, jot down their name and something about them. If you carry a business (or writer) card, offer to exchange cards.

Stretch Yourself. When selecting workshops, consider taking some that are out of your normal wheelhouse. If you’re a fiction writer, consider a session in poetry, for example.

Bonus tip: This is especially easy to do when the time slot doesn’t have something in your genre or form that really excites you.

Thank the Presenters. After a session, or when you see them later at the conference, say a few words to the presenters. Most work very hard getting ready, and it’s nice to feel appreciated, and you might make a lasting connection—most of the presenters are local (and most also teach at Charlotte Lit). Not sure what to say? Try one piece of specific praise (“I found the part about x especially valuable”).

Bonus tip: Most presenters will have books for sale at the conference bookstore, and they’d be happy to sign for you.


Follow Up with People. Did you collect names and email addresses? Reach out and say hello. Did you meet an agent or editor who expressed interest in your work? Send what you said you’d send.

Bonus tip: No email address? Send a connection request through Facebook or LinkedIn.

Review Your Notes. Most conference materials never again see the light of day, which is a shame: there’s likely a lot of great stuff in there. Did you come up with a story idea, or write a great piece of dialogue, or jot down a book you want to read? Now’s the best time to review and act.

Bonus tip: Do this within the first week, while your memory is fresh and motivation high.

Keep the Motivation Going. You’ll likely leave the conference fired up. While it’s hard to sustain that level of enthusiasm all year, use it as a springboard for your current or next project.

Bonus tip: Decide on your next conference or class and sign up right away. Might we suggest charlottelit.org/classes?

That’s it! We hope to see you there. And please stop by the Charlotte Lit table and say hello.

Learn more and register for the NC Writers’ Network Fall Conference. Hurry! Early bird rates are open until October 26.

Paul Reali is a co-founder of Charlotte Lit, and the author of Creativity Rising and other books on creative problem solving. He will present “Technology Toolkit: Software and Tech Stuff for Writers” at the NC Writers’ Network Conference. 

Living at the Borders of Boldness: Making Time to Reconnect with Our Creative Selves

Join us for Charlotte Lit’s first multi-day retreat

Do you ever feel that you’re living close to the borders of madness, that state of being in which each day is progressively more packed with meetings, phone calls, and errands? Have you begun to open your in-box each morning with a sense of fear and trepidation? Have you caught yourself saying aloud to some inner artist, “Hang on just one more day. We need to get through this project, then, I promise we’ll get to the good stuff; we’ll start making art again.”

In a world that values productivity and outer connection over rest and contemplation, it’s all too easy to set our creative selves on a shelf, to forget the art of reconnecting to those invisible forces that enrich and fill our lives with meaning. Creativity doesn’t just happen, however. While there’s some truth in creativity experts’ exhortations to “just put your butt in the chair,” sometimes the muse needs to be more gently coaxed.

If you’re like me, you may not remember when you last tried that gentle route––took time away from ordinary life to reflect, rest inside the natural world, and restore your body. I’m not talking about spending an evening with Netflix and a bottle of white wine. That kind of rest has its virtue, but it won’t do the trick when your muse is sending up flares and demanding a search and rescue mission.

Fortunately, Charlotte Lit has something to try instead: join us for a mini creativity retreat.

You won’t have to go far, pack a suitcase, or spend any time making plans. Charlotte Lit has taken care of all the details. By popular demand, Pacifica Graduate Institute’s Dr. Dennis Slattery returns to Charlotte to lead us on our creative quests to the “borders of boldness.” We’ll spend an evening and a full day together at a beautiful, peaceful retreat site in south Charlotte. Meals and most supplies provided. All you have to do is show up with an intention to unwind, reconnect to the source of inspiration inside you, and re-create your creative self.

Here’s what to expect:

Friday, October 19, 6–9 pm: We’ll begin our day and a half retreat at Soul’s Home Studio (aka Kathie’s place) with a light supper and introduction to the weekend, including a short film, talk, and discussion. (Light supper included)

Saturday, October 20, 10 am–5 pm: We’ll return to the studio for a day of creative introspection in which activity and rest, community time and solitude are woven into a peaceful, restorative pattern. Dennis will give talks based on his research and writing on creativity and facilitate follow-up discussions. We’ll enjoy journaling and visual art exercises that help us explore our unique creative processes; return to our bodies through labyrinth walks and gentle yoga practice; engage our Selves and one another through the body of a poem; and end our time with a closing ritual designed to lead us back into the world with renewed creative energy. (Lunch and snacks included)

If you have questions, email or call me: kathie@charlottelit.org or 704-458-3293. I’m really hoping you’ll join Dennis and me for this one-of-a-kind retreat!

Dennis Patrick Slattery, Ph.D., is Emeritus Faculty at Pacifica Graduate Institute. He is the author, co-author, editor or co-editor of 26 books, and the author of more than 200 articles on literature, psychology, culture and myth. He will publish three new works in 2019: Deep Creativity: Seven Ways to Spark Your Creative Spirit (Shambhala Press); a co-edited volume of the letters of Joseph Campbell; and a volume on Homer’s Odyssey. He continues to teach as Emeritus faculty and to offer “Riting Retreats” on exploring one’s personal myth. Dennis continues to take classes and paint in both acrylic and watercolor as well as ride his Harley-Davidson motorcycle through the Hill Country of Texas.

Kathie Collins, Ph.D., co-founder of Charlotte Center for Literary Arts, earned her graduate degree in Mythological Studies with an emphasis in Depth Psychology at Pacifica Graduate Institute, where she is currently an adjunct professor. A poet and lifelong student of Jungian psychology, Kathie thrives in the in-between space from which dreams and creativity emerge. She’s happiest when she can share that space with others and one of her great passions is bringing words and people together for transformative conversations. Kathie’s poetry has appeared in Immanence, Kakalak, Bible Workbench, and Between. Her chapbook Jubilee was published by Main Street Rag in 2011.

Literary Arts Events & Book Releases for Fall 2018

Compiled from multiple sources by Lisa Zerkle.

Fall brings a fresh slate of book releases and literary events for writers and readers to note.  We’ve rounded up some highlights here, but this is by no means a complete listing. Keep an eye on events calendars for Park Road Books, Queens University (try here and here), and UNCC. If you’re willing to venture further afield, Davidson College and Main Street Books Davidson both have a slate of readings and events, most free and open to the public.  While we didn’t list it here, Lenoir Rhyne’s Visiting Writers Series celebrates its 30th anniversary this year. If you’re willing to drive to Hickory on a weeknight, you’ll find a host of excellent writers including Laila Lalami, Li-Young Lee, and Juan Felipe Herrera. Lit’s weekly newsletter calls out local lit arts events and we do our best to mention them on our website, too. Let us know if there’s something we missed.

Kathryn Schwille reading: What Luck, This Life
Thursday September 20, 7 to 8:30 pm at Park Road Books

What Luck, This Life begins in the aftermath of the space shuttle’s break-up, as the people of Piney Woods watch their pastures swarm with searchers and reporters bluster at their doors. A shop owner defends herself against a sexual predator who is pushed to new boldness after he is disinvited to his family reunion. A closeted father facing a divorce that will leave his gifted boy adrift retrieves an astronaut’s remains. An engineer who dreams of orbiting earth joins a search for debris and instead uncovers an old neighbor’s buried longing. Info

Janet Mock, author of Redefining Realness, Reynolds Lecture (free, but tickets required)
Tuesday, September 25, 7 pm at Davidson College

Writer, TV host and producer, and advocate Janet Mock’s bestselling memoir Redefining Realness was the first autobiography written from the perspective of a trans girl. She produced the MSNBC series Beyond My Body and the HBO documentary The Trans List. Mock is a contributing editor at Allure, where she writes the column “Beauty Beyond Binaries.”

The First Annual Yorkville Literary Festival
October 5-6

Friday: Poetry Slam and Open Mic at the Sylvia, 9 pm. Saturday: events from 10 am-2 pm, including author presentations inside shops and cafes along Congress Street, children’s read-alouds, writing activities, and street performers. Downtown York. Info

Launch Party and Reading: Jeff Jackson, Destroy All Monsters
Friday October 19, 7-9 pm at Goodyear Arts

An epidemic of violence is sweeping the country: musicians are being murdered onstage in the middle of their sets by members of their audience. Are these random copycat killings, or is something more sinister at work? Has music itself become corrupted in a culture where everything is available, everybody is a “creative,” and attention spans have dwindled to nothing? With its cast of ambitious bands, yearning fans, and enigmatic killers, Destroy All Monsters tells a haunted and romantic story of overdue endings and unlikely beginnings that will resonate with anybody who’s ever loved rock and roll.

Jaki Shelton Green, North Carolina Poet Laureate, Q&A on Poetry, Activism,and Community
Tuesday, October 30, 7:30 pm, at Davidson College

Jaki Shelton Green teaches Documentary Poetry at Duke University Center for Documentary Studies and is a 2014 NC Literary Hall of Fame inductee, 2009 NC Piedmont Laureate, 2007 Sam Ragan Award in Fine Arts and won the 2003 North Carolina Award in Literature. Open to the public. No tickets are required.

Verse and Vino, fundraiser for Charlotte Mecklenburg Library Foundation
November 1, 6 to 9:30 pm, Charlotte Convention Center

Featuring authors Elliot Ackerman, Lou Berney, Casey Gerald, Paula McClain, Julia Reed. Tickets required. Info

North Carolina Writers Network Fall Conference Hilton Charlotte University Place
Friday-Sunday, November 2-4, 2018

The Fall Conference attracts hundreds of writers from around the country and provides a weekend full of activities that include readings, keynotes, tracks in several genres, open mic sessions, and the opportunity for one-on-one manuscript critiques with editors or agents. For the first time, this year the conference offers a full slate of sessions designed specifically for writers of stage and screen. In addition, as part of the Network’s ongoing mission to serve writers at all levels of experience, the Charlotte Lit will sponsor a “Business of Writing” track at Fall Conference for those who feel ready to take their manuscripts to market. Conference faculty include professional writers from North Carolina and beyond, including John Amen, Bryn Chancellor, Morri Creech, Sarah Creech, Julie Funderburk, Judy Goldman, Patrice Gopo, Maureen Ryan Griffin, Jodi Helmer, Kathy Izard, Paula Martinac, Dannye Romine Powell, Paul Reali, Amy Rogers, Betsy Thorpe, Kim Wright, Lisa Zerkle. Registration now open. Info

Morri Creech reading, Blue Rooms
Tuesday November 13 at Queens University

The Arts at Queens presents Writer in Residence Morri Creech reading from his fourth poetry collection, Blue Rooms, for the English Department Reading Series. These poems explore the terrain between conscious perception and the objective world and include references to such artists as Magritte and Goya. Creech’s last book was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.

December 4X4CLT Poetry and Art Poster release with featured poet, Maurice Manning
Friday November 30 at Resident Culture Brewing, Saturday December 1 at Charlotte Lit

December’s 4X4CLT features Maurice Manning who will read at the release party on Friday November 30 at Resident Culture Brewing in Plaza Midwood and teach a master class at Charlotte Lit on Saturday December 1. Manning teaches at Transylvania University in Kentucky and is on faculty at Warren Wilson’s MFA program. He is the author of six books, the latest, One Man’s Dark, published in 2017. In 2010 his book The Common Man was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. Manning’s poem “Orchard at the Bottom of the Hill” recently appeared in Time.

Grant News: 4X4CLT Series Funded by Arts and Science Council

We’re thrilled to announce Charlotte Lit was awarded a Cultural Vision Grant from the Arts and Science Council in support of our quarterly 4X4CLT poetry and art poster series.

This grant, provided in part by the NC Arts Council, funds six editions of the series beginning with September’s release and ending in December 2019. The Cultural Vision Grants aim to build strong communities and demonstrate innovative, relevant and transformative cultural expression. 4X4CLT was also selected because the series activates nontraditional performance or exhibition spaces close to where people live. This vote of confidence in Charlotte Lit’s programming allows us to continue to bring high-caliber poets to Charlotte for free readings and affordable master classes, in addition to shining a light on some of this area’s many exceptional local artists and their work.

Upcoming 4X4CLT Events

The September 4X4CLT kicks off over Labor Day weekend featuring poet Cecily Parks, author of O’Nights and Field, Folly, Snow. Parks will read from her work at the release party on Friday, August 31, from 6 to 8 pm at SOCO Gallery. Local artists Ruth Ava Lyons and Linda Foard Roberts will also be on hand for the celebration which is free and open to the public. September 4X4CLT posters with poems and art from these three women will be displayed at over 70 venues in and around Charlotte. On Saturday September 1, Parks will teach a master class in poetry at Charlotte Lit.

Looking ahead, December’s 4X4CLT features Maurice Manning who will read at the release party on Friday, November 30, at Resident Culture Brewing in Plaza Midwood, and teach a master class at Charlotte Lit on Saturday December 1. Manning teaches at Transylvania University in Kentucky and is on faculty at Warren Wilson’s MFA program. He is the author of six books, the latest, One Man’s Dark, published in 2017. In 2010 his book The Common Man was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. Manning’s poem “Orchard at the Bottom of the Hill” recently appeared in Time.

Charlotte Lit Year Three—Year of the Tree

“Looking Up to Heroes,” Crista Cammaroto, 2008. cristacammaroto.com

On Friday, May 4, we’re throwing a garden party to celebrate Charlotte Lit’s 2nd birthday. Join us for a stroll around the gardens of Wing Haven’s Elizabeth Lawrence House as we kick off Year Three—Year of the Tree. We’ll have food from La Tea Da’s, drinks, and delicious sweet treats courtesy of our friends at Sunflour Baking Company. Charlotte Lit teachers Bryn Chancellor (Sycamore) and Martin Settle (Maple Samaras) will read from their latest (tree-titled) books, and artist Crista Cammaroto will display pieces from her stunning collection of tree art. (If you arrive early, you might be lucky enough to purchase one of them.) And everyone goes home with a tree seedling, courtesy of Trees Charlotte. Tickets are $50. Click here to purchase yours.

Our official birthday was February 19, so we’re just a little late celebrating—but with good reason! Since last February’s birthday party at Copper Restaurant, where we kicked off our year-long celebration of renowned author Carson McCullers, we’ve hosted dozens of classes in virtually every writing genre, held community conversations and staged readings based on McCullers work, graduated our first group of Authors Lab students, celebrated six rounds of 4X4CLT poetry+art poster series, collaborated on events with a number of arts organizations, including CPCC’s Sensoria Festival, brought the NC Arts Council’s literature fellows to town for a wonderful evening of readings in The Light Factory, hosted Charlotte Lit members for Open Studio writing hours every Tuesday and Thursday…and the list goes on.

More important than any of the things we’ve done or any of the events we’ve hosted, however, are the friends we’ve made in the last two years. To all of you who have become members of Charlotte Lit, attended our classes, conversations, and events, added your energy to our Open Studio sessions, donated your time and dollars, or told your friends about the cool center for literary arts over in the Midwood International and Cultural Center—thank you for helping us “spread the words.”

We couldn’t do it without you, and we wouldn’t want to.

We need you back this year, too. The best way to help Charlotte Lit is through membership. If you haven’t already, please take a moment to renew your membership. If you’re not sure whether or not your membership is current, just email paul@charlottelit.org.

Special thanks to Janet Miller for helping us plan our birthday party and to all of you who plan to celebrate with us. Can’t wait to see you!


Find Your Place: Literary Events at This Week’s Sensoria Festival

Charlotte Lit is a proud partner for CPCC’s fantastic Sensoria: A Celebration of Literature and the Arts, April 6-15. We’re honored this year to present with Sensoria the Irene Blair Honeycutt Legacy Award to Maureen Ryan Griffin, and to have U.S. Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith as our featured poet for our 9th 4X4CLT Poetry+Art poster series.

In March 1999, CPCC featured Anne Lamott, author of the classic writing how-to Bird by Bird, as part of their annual literary festival. It’s a date I’ve committed to memory because I was there in the mid-morning audience, my two-month old son nestled in my lap, while my oldest two children were in preschool. As a brain-fried new mother, I was desperate for words, for meaning, for support of the notion that writing was a worthy and necessary endeavor. The theme for that year’s festival was “A Sense of Place: Writers in Community” and being there opened the door to the local writing community for me. These 19 years later, that baby is a freshman in college and the literary festival has grown into the 10-day Sensoria Festival, but that sense of welcome and community remains.

George Saunders, winner of the National Book Award and the keynote lecturer of last year’s festival, called Sensoria “one of the very best of its kind in the world.” There are a multitude of events—film screenings, opera, theatre, music, and more—across six CPCC campuses, but writers and readers should take note of the following opportunities to connect with the literary community:

Monday 4/9, 10:30 am at Tate Hall, Central Campus: When Literature Becomes Myth: Celebrating 200 Years of Frankenstein. In last week’s Litmosphere, David Poston beautifully enumerated why Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley’s novel is relevant these 200 years later. Leslie Klinger, editor of the New Annotated Frankenstein, speaks about the landmark science fiction novel at this talk.

Monday 4/9, 6 pm (reception), 7 pm (reading) at Tate Hall, Central Campus: Irene Blair Honeycutt Legacy Award Presentation and Reading. Charlotte Lit is honored to co-sponsor this award, named after Honeycutt who was an early and enthusiastic supporter of our organization. This year’s honor goes to Maureen Ryan Griffin, a poet and non-fiction writer, who in her work as a writing coach has propelled her students to a deeper understanding of the art. Join us in celebrating her contributions to the literary community. Sweets deliciously provided by Sunflour Baking Company.

Tuesday 4/10, 9:30 am at Levine Campus: Local Author Spotlight–Bryn ChancellorAuthor of the Oprah Magazine Top Pick Sycamore, UNCC Professor, and Charlotte Lit instructor Bryn Chancellor discusses the craft of writing. This event caps off Levine Reads, a campus-wide common read initiative.

Tuesday 4/10, 11 am at Levine Campus: Writing Workshop: Framing Our Experience: A Life in Pieces. Inspired by a micro-memoir workshop led by Charlotte Lit’s December 4x4CLT author Beth Ann Fennelly, CPCC English faculty members Jaime Pollard-Smith and Elizabeth West invite participants to explore the genre of creative non-fiction by writing small, vivid scenes drawn from daily life.

Wednesday 4/11, 8 pm in Pease Auditorium, Central Campus: Irene Blair Honeycutt Distinguished Lecturer: US Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith.

“As all the best poetry does, “Life on Mars”first sends us out into the magnificent chill of the imagination and then returns us to ourselves, both changed and consoled.”  –The New York Times Sunday Book Review

Tracy K. Smith, author of four poetry collections including the Pulitzer-winning Life on Marsand the just-released Wade in the Water, reads and discusses her work. Just appointed to a second term as US Poet Laureate, Smith’s mission is to bring poetry to rural communities. Charlotte Lit’s April 4X4CLT poetry and art poster series— featuring Smith’s poems, along with art by Isaac Payne and Felicia van Bork—will be released and displayed at this event. Smith will read a second time on Thursday 4/12, 11 am in Halton Theater, Central Campus.

Thursday 4/12, 9:30 am in Tate Hall, Central Campus: Regional Author Spotlight: Jon PinedaPineda is a core faculty member of the low-residency MFA program at Queens University and is the author of poetry, memoir, and fiction, including his latest novel Let’s No One Get Hurt.

Thursday 4/12, 3 pm (Artist’s Lecture) Tate Hall, Central Campus and 6:30 pm (Opening Reception) Ross Gallery, Central Campus: Featured Visual Artist Felicia van Bork: color + color = spaceIn her “How to” series, van Bork uses her own torn and cut monotype prints to create large-scale collages, two of which are featured on April’s 4X4CLT poetry and art poster series. In the afternoon, van Bork discusses her artwork which will be displayed in an exhibit opening that evening in the Ross Gallery.

Lisa Zerkle’s poems have appeared in The Collagist, Comstock Review, Southern Poetry Anthology, Broad River Review, Tar River Poetry, Nimrod, Sixfold, poemmemoirstory, Crucible, and Main Street Rag, among others. Author of the chapbook, Heart of the Light, she has served as President of the North Carolina Poetry Society, community columnist for The Charlotte Observer, and editor of Kakalak. She is the curator of Charlotte Lit’s 4X4CLT, a public art and poetry series.

UNCC’s Literary Festival Finds a Home in the Heart of the City

When I moved to Charlotte in 2015 for my teaching position in UNC Charlotte’s Department of English, I discovered the campus isn’t what you’d call centrally located. Built north of the city on affordable farmland after World War II, the university has become a thriving urban institution, but a sense of remove from the city—physically and figuratively—persists. When I first met with Charlotte Lit and folks from other colleges and organizations to chat about supporting and building the literary arts, I came away with the feeling that UNCC was, well, a little out of the loop, in part because of its distance from the heart of Charlotte.

I knew I wanted to bridge this divide, to bring UNCC into the literary fold. This would help fulfill my college’s mission of community engagement but also my own. Literary events have enormous power: they give us joy, unite us, let us express our shared humanity, and show us how writing and art can sustain us, especially in times of change and upheaval.

Enter UNC Charlotte’s Center City campus, a gorgeous building located smack in the middle of Uptown, adjacent to First Ward Park and a quick stroll from the 7th Street Market and light rail station. Not only does Center City have a wonderful space, but it is committed—in spirit and, importantly, in funding—to programming community events. The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences hosts its “Personally Speaking” series there, and my department had launched the Center City Literary Festival in 2013 and 2014, so the seeds of possibility were planted.

In 2017, the Center City Literary Festival was reborn.

The free public festival includes daytime and nighttime events. During the day, we feature children’s authors along with fun kids’ activities such as creation stations (coloring, crafting, and character-building) and scavenger hunts. In the evening, we welcome award-winning authors for a reception, readings, discussion, book signings, and socializing.

We are committed, within our budget, to inviting renowned and emerging writers. In 2017, we were fortunate enough to bring prominent poets Nikky Finney and Eduardo C. Corral and fiction writer Dustin M. Hoffman; we also are dedicated to showcasing a UNCC or local writer (I was part of the 2017 festival). Here is what one attendee shared afterward:

“The whole experience delivered such a surprise gift—I hadn’t expected to be so deeply moved. The writers reconstituted my writing will—threw buckets of water my way—and reminded me how dehydrated I’d become. The presenters reminded me that language is how we reconnect with ourselves. When we make the effort to articulate those pieces that make us uniquely human, our words ‘ping’ others. Collectively we learn that we’re not alone—we get ‘re-membered.’ Isn’t that a big part of what writing’s all about? Nikky spoke of how writers ‘save’ something. I know that last night saved a part of me.”

The 2018 festival on Saturday, April 14, 2018, will offer another terrific evening lineup: Jill McCorkle, acclaimed fiction writer who this year will be inducted into the North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame; poet Gary Jackson, winner of the Cave Canem Poetry Prize and other honors; Hannah Dela Cruz Abrams, prose writer and winner of a Whiting Award; Paula Martinac, UNCC creative writing instructor and Lambda Literary Award-winning fiction writer; and Siobhán Campbell, a poet and critic serving as the Spring 2018 Kingston Visiting Writer at UNCC.

With the completion of the light rail, we hope to diminish the physical divide between campus and city and offer more events on our main campus, which is vibrant in its own right. For now, we hope you’ll join UNC Charlotte for a great day and night of literature set against Uptown’s luminescent skyline, right in the beating heart of the city.


Center City Literary Festival
Saturday, April 14, 2018
UNC Charlotte Center City Campus
320 E. 9th Street, Charlotte 28202



Bryn Chancellor is a 2017-18 North Carolina Arts Council fellow and an assistant professor of English at UNC Charlotte. Her novel Sycamore, an Indie Next pick, an Amazon Best Book of 2017, and among Bustle‘s Best Debuts of 2017, is out now in paperback.