Poet Stuart Dischell

The Arts at Queens proudly presents The English Department Reading Series and poet Stuart Dischell, Thursday, March 15, 7 pm, Ketner Auditorium, Sykes Building, Queens University of Charlotte. More Info


The poet Stuart Dischell’s fifth collection, Children with Enemies, has recently been released by The University of Chicago Press. His first, Good Hope Road, was a National Poetry Series Selection. Those poems—that book—matter very much to me, as I had the great fortune of being in Stuart’s first class of creative writing graduate students at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

For me, Stuart has modeled what it means to be a poet: to love language well, to reach outward toward a writing community. He showed me how to navigate a writing future, assisting me whenever possible. Because of him, I internalized the importance of reading for myself in a necessary, self-guided way. He brought poets to his students’ attention as all great teachers do; Stuart also brought them to us in person, to teach us and socialize with us (even Seamus Heaney, the week before he won the Nobel Prize in Literature).Writers who are gone he made present (in particular for me, Randall Jarrell and Etheridge Knight).

Stuart’s literary gifts have carried forward in his subsequent collections, evolving in their vision and honing their strengths. He calibrates his diction, his rhetoric and structures, whether delivering the poem in third person or first. He gives voice to the herd in tall grass or the puppet with a complaint. Poems can be personas or personal lyrics, or are presented as if overheard by a silent listener. He is a master of the varied and unexpected list. He often takes us through the city, shows us the lives beyond its windows, takes us to wharves or down neighborhood streets. There are people and avenues, dogs, women in the rain, workers at a manhole cover, a mom in a ball cap, and evenings at a Paris bar. In this peopled world there is both comfort and despair.

I have learned much from his lines—so natural in how they proceed one to another, and yet each cohesive and resonant unto itself. What sets Stuart’s lines and their handling of story and music apart, though, are the ways he accomplishes all of this through image. Song and lineation, in Stuart’s poems, resound by way of his command and gift for metaphor. His images apprehend the world as captured exactly by a voice—the old horses at the fence, how “Their veined faces/ Scare me a little/ And the top lips they pull back/ Show large yellow teeth.”

His images often locate an enviable, compressed poignancy. “It’s the smile of the wire that breaks your neck,” concludes the poem “Beneath the Blast” in his new book. Many of the poems in Children with Enemies, with its notable bright green cover and red-eyed spider, summon a wild energy, achieved by tracking a ray of sunshine or invisible alphabets. Poems make wide assertions, made insistent through the particular. The stomach must be forgiven for its vomit. The lost father has become “a statue of air.” There is tension here between the harmless and harmful. Sometimes the tragedy is not getting what you want for your birthday, but this is, upon proper reflection, reason for a deep loneliness.


Stuart Dischell’s poems have appeared in The Atlantic, Agni, The New Republic, Slate, Kenyon Review, Ploughshares, and anthologies including Essential Poems, Hammer and Blaze, and  Pushcart Prize. A recipient of awards from the NEA, the North Carolina Arts Council, and the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, he teaches in the MFA Program in Creative Writing at the University of North Carolina Greensboro.

Julie Funderburk is author of the poetry collection The Door That Always Opens (LSU Press). She is the recipient of fellowships from the North Carolina Arts Council and the Sewanee Writers Conference. She is an Assistant Professor of English and Creative Writing at Queens University in Charlotte, NC, where she directs The Arts at Queens.

It Is Okay to Weep in the Aisles

It is okay to weep in the aisles
wiping tears before handling grapes,
sampling wines.
Red or white?  Just choose.
Your heart won’t know the difference.
No matter that the woman with the chic
side braid—her child pushing the cart,
training to become  a customer—
stares at you as though you’re out of line,
then quickly turns and squeezes lemons.
We all have our seasons.
She can’t know what you know—not yet.
It is okay to weep in the aisles.

 

 

From Beneath the Bamboo Sky (Main Street Rag, 2017)


Irene Blair Honeycutt’s fourth poetry book, Beneath the Bamboo Sky (Main Street Rag, 2017), sub-titled Poems and Pieces on Loss and Consolation, “is my attempt to honor life by giving voice to sorrow and joy. Much of the book is about the loss of siblings—a grief not often recognized in our culture.” Irene founded CPCC’s annual literary festival, now called Sensoria. Upon her retirement, the college established a Distinguished Lectureship in her name. Her work has been published in Nimrod, Southern Poetry Review, The Southern Poetry Anthology: VII, and Virginia Quarterly Review, and others. She lives in Indian Trail, and continues to teach and mentor poets.

On Parachutes and Literary Citizenship

Lately, I’ve been thinking about parachutes. Not related to jumping out of airplanes and free-falling until you snap your parachute open. Rather, I remember over thirty years ago and filing into my school gymnasium along with the rest of my first-grade class. We sprinted around the perimeter of the room for a warm-up, our eyes glued to the red, green, blue, and yellow parachute spread out across the center of the gym floor.

Parachute day. A gym class spent grabbing the edge of the parachute, lifting our arms when commanded, attempting to get a yarn ball to fall through the hole in the middle. Toward the end of the class, we’d together grasp our portion and hold the parachute waist high. Then on the count of three, we raised our arms over our heads, crouched down, and pulled the parachute over us, a giant balloon forming above our class.

In a way, Literary Citizenship might be akin to parachute day. For those who have never heard of the concept of Literary Citizenship, this term often describes the acts we as writers do to uplift the whole writing community—this literary society in which we are citizens.

Literary Citizenship may include, but is not limited to, actions such as subscribing to literary journals or buying books from local bookstores, attending readings or planning events to highlight other writers, writing book reviews or interviewing another writer in your newsletter or on your blog, supporting your local library or sending another writer a note of appreciation. And the list can continue to items like promoting another author’s book, writing a book endorsement, providing feedback to another writer, or giving suggestions about submission opportunities. Honestly, the potential actions may be endless and, when viewed as merely a to-do list, might fall into the category of “overwhelming.”

Literary Citizenship, however, is less of a to-do list and more of a mindset, a way of seeing ourselves as part of this writing community and writing life. For me, to participate in acts of Literary Citizenship is to acknowledge that while I might write alone, I do not exist in this writing world alone. I am a citizen along with many, many others.

When it came to parachute day, there was no way one first grader could lift her arms high in the air, crouch down, and let a giant balloon form above. No way at all. Parachute day took our whole class, each adding their particular ability and part in the pursuit of a greater goal.

Of late, I find myself accessing the generosity of this literary world to which I claim membership. I’m in the midst of gathering endorsements for my forthcoming essay collection, and I’m reliant on the help other writers can provide. When I first began this process, my stomach turned with nervousness and fear of rejection.

While those feelings haven’t necessarily dissipated, I’m working to remind myself that to need other writers is the very hallmark of being part of a literary world. I’m not holding onto a huge parachute alone. Just like I value engaging as a literary citizen, other writers do as well. We each are able to contribute different acts—not a to-do list but instead what is appropriate to and possible for who we are as writers.

I hold the edge of a parachute not with a class of first graders, but instead with a community of writers, ready to lift our arms, our pens, our words, our reviews, our time in a variety of different ways. Together we elevate the writing world and help us all sit beneath the communal power of building a robust literary society.

We give, we ask, we participate, we offer, and we live this writing life embracing and walking in the reality that we are citizens. We are citizens. And we are not alone.

To read more about the concept of Literary Citizenship (and debates about the merits of Literary Citizenship), check out these links:

Cathy Day’s Principles on Literary Citizenship” at the Literary Citizenship blog

5 Ways to Be a Good Literary Citizen” at the Writer’s Digest blog

Are There Limits to Literary Citizenship?” at Jane Friedman’s blog

That’s Not How Any of This Works” at the Brevity blog


Patrice Gopo is a 2017-2018 North Carolina Arts Council Literature Fellow. Her essay collection about race, immigration and belonging will release this summer. Please visit patricegopo.com to read more of her work and sign up for updates about her book.

Reverse Physics

If millions lose their health care, will anyone hear
in the forest
of the innocents?

Gravity will run upward like a cyclone
sweeping all before it,

the apple will go skyborne from the grass
into the golden leaves,

thousands will stand
outside the orbit
of hospitals, clinics, doctors,

the chemistry of addiction will grow inward—
to arteries and minds
and communities of death

that whiten the wealthy
and whirl into space
all dignity and justice and love.


David Radavich’s poetry collections have often revolved around political themes: America Bound: An Epic for Our Time (2007), Middle-East Mezze (2011), and The Countries We Live In (2014).  His plays have been performed across the U.S., including six Off-Off-Broadway, and in Europe.  A cycle of plays called On the Verge focuses on various aspects of violence in our time. He has published numerous informal and scholarly essays and performed in a variety of countries, including Egypt, France, Germany, Greece, and Iceland. David has served as president of the Thomas Wolfe Society, Charlotte Writers’ Club, and North Carolina Poetry Society.


David teaches “Speaking Out: Poetry as Political Speech,” March 14, 2018, 10am-1pm at Charlotte Lit. More Info / Register

When You’re the Emcee

Hosting a literary reading? Here’s poet Richard Allen Taylor on the fine points of being the emcee.


Emcees worry about making the colossal gaffe. Just ask Steve Harvey, who famously announced the wrong winner in the Miss Universe pageant. A friend of mine, John B, made a less colossal mistake when he served as emcee for his organization. He started to say, “Let’s give Betty a warm round of applause,” but tried to switch over to “Let’s give her a hand.” The crossed wires of tongue and brain resulted in giving Betty “a warm round of hand,” which had the audience snickering and staring at their palms, trying to imagine how that bizarre suggestion might work out for Betty. As good emcees do, both Harvey and John B. recovered; they apologized and moved on.

So, you’ve been tapped as the Master of Ceremonies—the “emcee”—at your group’s open mic poetry reading. Maybe you’ve done it before, perhaps many times. Maybe it’s your first time. Whether serving as emcee is routine for you or new and intimidating, be assured, you will make mistakes, and your response should be, like Steve Harvey and John B., to apologize and move on. Usually, the audience will understand and sympathize.

Being an emcee boils down to two key objectives: (1) control the flow of the meeting; keep the program moving according to plan (or script), and (2) create a welcoming, enjoyable atmosphere. It’s really a matter of melding the “etiquette” of meeting leadership with common sense and the drive to get things done on time and in an orderly fashion.

One of the more important duties of the emcee is to introduce readers. Here’s an outline of the technique I prefer:

  1. From the mic (or the stage, podium or lectern), introduce the reader by name; use a brief bio if time permits. If the person is the “featured reader,” use a longer introduction. Avoid making any derogatory jokes or remarks about the person being introduced or any member of the audience.
  2. Lead the applause as the reader approaches the mic.
  3. Don’t leave the mic “empty.” Hold your position until the reader arrives. An empty stage may create unwelcome tension.
  4. Offer a brief greeting, and a handshake unless it would be awkward to do so.
  5. Adjust the mic position if needed for the reader’s height.
  6. Step aside and take a seat near the mic. This will allow you to quickly re-take control of the meeting when the reader is finished.
  7. Lead the applause as the reader returns to his or her seat.

Yes, you might be accustomed to a less “formal” approach.  I’ve seen open mic events where the emcee sat in the back of the room and announced each reader, or drew three names at a time, read them aloud, and counted on the readers to make their way to and from the mic without the fanfare of individual recognition or welcoming. These methods work, but to me seem less “personal” than the process described above. If you must use a shortcut method, you still can create that very important “welcoming atmosphere” by greeting participants as they arrive and by thanking them for sharing their poems at the end of the program.

Do well, and the audience will appreciate your efforts. You might even get a warm round of hand.


Richard Allen Taylor is the author of three books of poetry, most recently Armed and Luminous (Main Street Rag Publishing Company, 2016). Taylor’s poems, articles and reviews have appeared in Rattle, Comstock Review, The Pedestal, Iodine Poetry Journal, Wild Goose Poetry Review, Asheville Poetry Review, Toastmaster Magazine and South Carolina Review, among others. Taylor currently serves as review editor for The Main Street Rag and formerly co-edited Kakalak. After retiring from his 44-year business career in 2013, Taylor earned an MFA in Creative Writing from Queens University of Charlotte in 2015.

In the Evening We Shall Be Examined on Love

In the Evening We Shall Be Examined on Love
~ St. John of the Cross

My Imperfect Heart, Terry Thiron

That line was enough to propel Thomas Centolella into his moving poem of that title, and has been enough to stay with me as an iconic constant, a touchstone that I come back to like being aware of the intake of breath. I suppose I could do worse than question how I’ve scored in the school of love. Have I, in any given moment, remembered the open heart; the way love ties me to others; has it brought me beyond petty attitudes to be present with the woman I love meeting the challenges that emerge with every moment?

I’m getting ready for an evening performance of poetry and music on the theme, looking at more than three thousand years of world cultures and their insights into love and romance. I want to do this, not because I know the topic, but because I don’t know it well enough and want to know more. I need an advanced course and a deadline, to get out of grade school if I can, while I can.

I’ve been lost in love before, inhaled its heady fragrance, lucky enough to see love mellow and ripen and I’m o’ so grateful for it. But I’ve blown it as well, given up when it got tough, stayed too long and not long enough. Was it naiveté, will I do it again? Maybe there’s more I could have done, that I could still do.

I suspect as a culture we’ve forgotten what happens when reverence for love gets lost. Maybe that’s  partly due to the way we elevate the personal. I read that when Ibn Arabi felt the ecstatic pull to a Persian beauty, he knew behind it was a gift of divinity and it propelled him to embrace the Sufi inspiration: love is my religion and my faith. When the Greeks told the story of how Aphrodite condemned Psyche to a craggy rock for the way her beauty was worshiped by the community, was it out of jealousy or because we’d forgotten how beauty came to us. Can we hear Sappho call respectfully to Aphrodite: Lady of Cyprus, pour the nectar that honors you into our cups. And when it all gets too heady, can Ikkyu bring us back to ground: Ten days in the monastery made me restless…If one day you come looking for me, ask for me at the fishmonger’s, in the tavern, or in my woman’s embrace.

I wonder, is it really a test about success and failure? When, as Centolella says, we…climb the hill as the light empties and park our tired bodies on a bench above the city and try to fill in the blanks, maybe it’s not about our own view at all. Whatever looks down on us in our reflection, does it marvel as we do at the effort, the stories, the love?


Larry Sorkin is a part time business man, sometime poet, and occasional performer of poetry with musicians. He’s been working with the Bechtler Ensemble for over ten years. He teaches and presents workshops exploring poetry and the arts, dance, and music. You can find some of his published work in the collections …and love... and What Matters by Jacar Press.

How to be Kind to Your Reader: Some Thoughts on George Saunders

George Saunders is big on kindness. When I read the convocation speech he gave at Syracuse University, which is now available to us in a book, Congratulations, By The Way: Some Thoughts on Kindness, which I highly recommend, it got me wondering: if you write fiction, as Saunders does beautifully, is there such a thing as being kind to your reader?

I happen to believe that there is. Kindness begins with respect, human being to human being. The writer of fiction should assume that the reader is an intellectual equal. Now, I know George Saunders knows more than I do, and when I read his Lincoln in the Bardo, I relished the challenge of keeping up. This masterpiece of a novel, about souls in a literal or figurative state of transition, tells the story—from a wildly original point of view—of Abraham Lincoln in the hours surrounding his beloved 11-year-old son Willie’s death from typhoid fever. Even though I wandered through some pages, disoriented as a blind squirrel looking for a nut, I trusted that Saunders would lead me to the light.

No one likes to be talked down to or treated with condescension. I used to tell my high-school English students, “In a three-page paper, you only need to say it one time. I know I’m old, but my memory is still intact. You don’t need to restate your thesis in the conclusion. Use that space and opportunity to tell me something related to your topic that I may not know.” Saunders taught me a lot, not only about American history, but also about tone and characterization and pacing and structure. Fiction writers are teachers, too. I choose to read writers whose ability level is far beyond mine so that I might learn from them.

Kind writers allow the love for their craft to show. When I read Saunders, I’m reminded of my ninth-grade geometry teacher who could not hide her admiration for the beauty of a geometrical proof. Her voice would change; her eyes would shine. I witness that same kind of joy in Lincoln in the Bardo. Imagine Saunders’ delight when he discovered that, in 1861, the President received a letter that read, “Mr. Abe Lincoln, you don’t Resign, we are going to put a spider in your dumpling….” (There’s more to that letter that made my mouth fall open in horror; see page 233 for details.) As I read these words a second time, I can almost see Saunders hopping out of his desk chair and jumping around like he’d won the lottery. Ali Smith is another awe-inspiring contemporary fiction writer easy to catch in the act of joy; her novel How to be Both is as inventive and challenging as Lincoln in the Bardo. I don’t know if Smith and Saunders have met, but I believe they’d become the fastest of friends.

A kind fiction writer embraces economy of language. One of the mantras of the editor and publisher should be, “No self-indulgence allowed.” A writer flaunting his flair with intricate similes or veering off on an unrelated tangent reveals a selfishness, not to mention a startling lack of awareness, that someone other than he will be reading the words. With their enlarged empathy genes, kind writers know better than anyone that there are plenty of other A+ novels their readers could have chosen instead. “Kindness, it turns out, is hard,” Saunders told the student body at Syracuse, where he teaches creative writing—also hard if done well, and worth all the precious time and emotional energy and sleepless nights when one reader says, “Those words on that page: I am pretty sure that you wrote them just for me.”


Jenny Hubbard lives in the town of her childhood (Salisbury, NC) and works at the public library where she first learned to read. Her two novels, Paper Covers Rock and And We Stay (Delacorte Press, Penguin Random House), feature teenage protagonists who come to rely on poetry as a way to order the chaos. An English teacher for seventeen years, Jenny believes she learned more from her students than they ever learned from her. She is currently under the tutelage of her rescue dog, Oliver.

Terrestrial, Baby

What you say after making love to your wife can crash-and-burn
a marriage—or save it. Count what I said last night as a crash-and-burn.

We had just made love for the first time in a long time. We were
just rolling around our bedroom, laughing like we had the whole world
to roll around on. About five minutes later, I go and say I don’t feel
nothing. Yeah, you heard it here. All Sharon has said since: Take out
the garbage. Do you think you can rehang the front door, the one
you busted last month? Maria needs Huggies, and Me and Maria
will be spending the next month at my mother’s. Her mother lives
in Maryland, two states to the north. Merry-damn-land, which it ain’t.

I used to think love would save me from all the sad and tore-up feelings
I’d always had about the world. So I put everything into me and Sharon.
We’ve got our sweet one-year-old, Maria. We’ve got this little A-frame
we built ourselves at the north edge of the Combahee Swamp. We’ve got
12 years of marriage, the last two real messed up. We’ve got love getting
smaller in the rearview. From the get-go, I tried to tuck the Milky Way
inside us because I wanted us to last all and forever.

I’m on my nightly run through the Combahee Swamp. About every night
for the last two months. Sharon thinks I’m seeing someone. I’m not seeing
nobody but myself. Just driving my ‘71 Bug, checking what’s out here.
Most nights there’s not even another car. Nothing except the red eyes
of some critter—a possum by the road or an owl way up in a cypress.
For a second, they’re in your headlights, and then they turn away.

Tonight’s run is to Swaim’s Taxidermy, Taxes Done, and Everything Store
for something for Sharon. White wine? Flowers? Some of those fashion
magazines she likes? Some Chinese incense, the type she burns after a fatty? What?

I reach up and rub the rootbag that’s hanging from the mirror.
The bag’s about half the size of your fist. Mulviney, the black rootwoman,
fixed it up for me. Painted the suede leather this fluorescent green color.
Inside are snips of mine and her hair, some crushed lavender, a dried-up
clasper off a hammerhead, the wax cast off Sharon’s wedding ring.

The color of Love, Mulviney said. I think it was just the only color
she had left. She’s got a place in the southern tip of Combahee Swamp,
where two dirt roads make a crossroads. Always makes me feel cold,
a dirt crossroads in the middle of nowhere. Her place’s got no running water,
just a woodstove, some books piled in a corner, a new off-road bicycle
leaning against the front of her cabin, a jug of fluorescent paint on the porch.
The paint’s already cracking off the bag and dropping little bits of it
all over the dash and floormats—they pick up whatever light there is.

The thing is Patience, Mulviney said. But patience is like waiting for Jesus
to show up, just for you, and then he doesn’t say anything. Because you’re scared
of a mute Jesus, you don’t say anything. And quick as he comes, he goes.

I cut off my Bug’s headlights, so I’m steering by the full moon coming
right off the yellow centerlines. Feels like you’re a kid coming home
from the beach. Parents’ voices soft up front, you lying on the backseat,
staring out the rear window, and the moon follows you over the mountains
and down into the valleys. You believe that the moon’s yoked to you.
You believe in some kind of good life coming your way.

Mulviney said, Count your blessings, count on what you got now, count
on the terrestrial, baby. I go to count up these stories about me
and Sharon being in love, but they’ve snuck off. I’ve looked for them
everywhere: in my glove compartment, under our waterbed, in the jeans
I wore back when I used to have them, under Sharon’s eyelids.

There’s enough light coming through the moonroof (I cut it out by hand
with my acetylene torch) so I can read the speedometer. The needle’s
swung around to 60. Too damn fast, what with all the curves and no shoulder
out here. Just a two-foot drop-off into black water that’s full of cypress knees
and water moccasins too thick to squeeze through a tailpipe.

You don’t even know what you got. Yeah, I do. I’ve got some old
love song about me and Sharon I.V.ing through me, but a mouth
that can’t sing it. I’ve got this road ahead of—and behind—me, cutting
across the belly of the swamp. I’ve got this one night about
to bust apart on me, like all the stars decided to drop at once.


Charles Israel, Jr., teaches creative writing at Queens University of Charlotte. His poetry chapbook, Stacking Weather, was published by Amsterdam Press. He’s also had poems and stories in Field, The Cortland Review, Crazyhorse, Nimrod International Journal, Zone 3, Pembroke Magazine, Eleven Eleven, Journal of the American Medical Association, Waccamaw Journal, Loud Zoo, and North Carolina Literary Review. He also likes playing tennis and urban bike riding.

Leaving Publishing for a Solo Career: One Woman’s Story

I remember seeing the notice in Publisher’s Weekly. A senior editor I knew at Hyperion had gone to work as a freelance editor, and her email address followed to get in contact with her.

Poor woman, I thought, she’ll never get any work. No publisher I had ever worked for had a budget to assign out developmental edits.

Sure enough, the next year, I saw another notice: this editor was back working at another large publisher. She’d clearly tested the waters, declared them far too risky, and gone back into the safety of corporate trade publishing again. I knew it, I thought. I should tell fortunes on the side.

It was impossible to leave publishers, leave New York, and still get work. Some former colleagues had become literary agents and got lucky with some big name clients, while others had to leave the industry altogether.

And yet not two years later, the tables turned. I had finally found a great publishing house that seemed to have their act together and was able to conduct business like grown-ups, with a sound business plan, and a convivial, collegiate atmosphere. When I got pregnant, I worked like hell, editing and acquiring the contractual sixteen books required to collect my bonus when I got back, fully determined to come back after my maternity leave.

Long story short, after I had my baby girl, I couldn’t imagine being an hour away by train from my helpless six pound newborn without a support network being nearby (which wasn’t), and my publisher wouldn’t let me work from home for a couple of days/week.

I turned in my notice to the best publishing job I’d ever had. With my husband’s support, I took a huge gamble—and went freelance.

Much to my surprise, within the week of announcing that I was an experienced editor-for-hire, I got a call from a literary agent, whose client had just gotten a major deal from Broadway Books, one of the publishers I’d worked for. This author was freaking out about actually now having to write her book on her struggles with Type 2 Diabetes. (It’s one thing to write a proposal, far different to write 80,000 words.) She hired me to collaborate, and soon I was working, part-time, in Manhattan again, commuting into the city to write alongside Carol, and coax the manuscript out of her. Another ghost-writing job soon followed, as well as edits for books from authors who were self-publishing or looking to land an agent and publisher. Referrals kept coming from past clients and authors.

When I got divorced five years later and had not just one but two girls to take care of, I took a breath. And many, rapid, shaky breaths thereafter. Could I make this freelance editor thing work full-time? And could I do it while moving to Charlotte, North Carolina, to be near my parents, far away from the epicenter of New York publishing?

Eleven years later, here I am, full-time with a waiting list, working with new authors, ghost-writing, editing, and coaching people about the book publishing process. I’ve come across a thriving writing scene here in Charlotte and the Carolinas, have clients across the U.S., as well as writers who find me from as far away as Australia and India. Last week I finished editing a complicated novel that takes place during the Spanish Civil War and the Franco years, gave advice about using real world place names to a women’s fiction author whose book I edited set in Texas, coached a nonfiction author on pitching her Ted talk, and collaborated with a woman who founded a national non-profit on her book proposal about family homelessness—we’re going to send it out to agents next week. These projects challenge me, excite me, and give me something new to tackle every week.

I’d been right and wrong about going freelance all those years ago. I was right that book publishers still don’t have the budget to hire freelance editors, but I was wrong in not recognizing that there are many authors who value the guidance of a professional editor to help make their work the best it can be, and need an expert to hold their hands as they take on the arcane and sometimes frustrating world of the book publishing industry.


Betsy Thorpe has been in the publishing business since the 90’s, when she started at Atheneum Publishers. Since then, she grew her way into the role of editor at HarperCollins, Broadway Books, Macmillan, and the trade division of John Wiley & Sons. She started Betsy Thorpe Literary Services when she had her first child, and has been running it as a full-time business for more than 11 years. She is the co-author of numerous non-fiction books, including three that have been written about in the New York Times, and has a literary agent for her first novel, The Thin Place.

In the Litmosphere: What’s Coming Up for Readers & Writers

If you’re an avid reader like me, there’s nothing worse than finding out one of your favorite authors has visited recently, but you missed them.  Maybe their appearance wasn’t well advertised, or you were busy and didn’t have a chance to read any of the fifteen information streams where it was mentioned, or your best friend thought she told you, but really didn’t.  And so you find out the next day or the next week that Margaret Atwood spoke at Davidson or John Grisham visited Park Road Books and you missed it.

I’m here for you, friend. In what we plan to be an ongoing series, Charlotte Lit has put together a heads up of literary events coming soon to the Charlotte area. Most, if not all, are free, but some do require tickets. So get reading and then get out there and hear these excellent writers. A few highlights are: George Saunders, whose novel “Lincoln in the Bardo” won the 2017 Man Booker Prize, speaks at Davidson College in February. A master of the short story, he’s an inspiring reader who’s not to be missed. Poet Stuart Dischell, a longtime creative writing professor at UNC Greensboro, shares his touching, well-wrought poems in March at Queens. Also in March, Zadie Smith is worth the drive to Hickory’s Lenoir-Rhyne where she’ll read from her latest collection of essays; and Colson Whitehead, author of the Pulitzer Prize winning novel “Underground Railroad” visits Davidson. Buckle your seat belts for April when author of “The Historian,” Elizabeth Kostova, comes to Park Road Books with her latest novel; Poet Laureate of the United States, Tracy K. Smith, offers the keynote at CPCC’s Sensoria Festival; and Jill McCorkle, among others, take part in UNCC’s Literary Festival uptown.

Work read live reveals layers and nuance that’s sometimes missing from the page. Besides, writing is a lonely profession.  If you love someone’s work, show up for them, buy their book, and tell them you enjoyed it. Maybe that encouragement will be just the thing to keep them at the desk when writer’s block strikes next. And if you’re a writer, or aspire to be one, literary wisdom and encouragement is on offer for you at these in-person appearances, too. Mark your calendar, call a friend, and join the literary community for these upcoming events.

2.6.18, 7 pm, Park Road Books, Amber Smith, “The Last to Let Go” book launch, [Info]

2.12.18, 8 pm, Davidson College, George Saunders [Info]

3.8.18, 7 pm, Park Road Books, John Hart, “The Hush” [Info]

3.15.18, 7 pm, Queens University, Poet Stuart Dischell, Ketner Auditorium[Info]

3.22.18, 7 pm, Lenoir Rhyne,  Zadie Smith. [Info] (Smith’s new collection of essays, “Feel Free” will be released 2.6.18)

3.27.18, 7 pm, Davidson College, Colson Whitehead. [Info]

4.5.18, 7 pm, Park Road Books, Elizabeth Kostova, The Shadow Land[Info]

4.5.18, 7:30 pm, Davidson College, Poet Clint Smith. [Info]

4.11-12.18, CPCC’s Sensoria Festival’s keynote speaker is the poet laureate of the United States, Tracy K. Smith.  She will give two public readings on April 11, 8 pm,  and April 12 , 11 am. [Info] (Her new collection of poetry, “Wade in the Water” will be released 4.3.18).

4.12.18, 9:30 am, CPCC’s Sensoria Festival, Poet and Novelist Jon Pineda. [Info]

4.15.18 UNCC’s Literary Festival is at their uptown campus featuring morning events for kids and evening readings by: Jill McCorkle, Gary Jackson, Hannah Dela Cruz Abrams, Paula Martinac, Siobhan Campbell. [Info]