Two Faculty Members Win Book Awards for Fiction, Poetry

Alan Shapiro and Lawrence Naumoff ’68, members of UNC’s creative writing faculty, have won 2005 North Carolina Book Awards for fiction and poetry.

Shapiro, the William R. Kenan Jr. distinguished professor of English, received the Roanoke-Chowan Award for Poetry for Tantalus in Love(Houghton Mifflin, 2005).

The award, presented annually by the N.C. Literary and Historical Association, honors the best volume of poetry by a North Carolinian. Shapiro also won the prize in 2002, for Song and Dance: Poems.

Naumoff, a lecturer in the program, won the Sir Walter Raleigh Award for the best work of fiction by a North Carolinian. He was honored for A Southern Tragedy, in Crimson and Yellow (Zuckerman Cannon Publishers, 2005), a novel based on the tragic chicken plant fire in Hamlet in 1991.

The association presents the award on behalf of the Historical Book Club of North Carolina, based in Greensboro.

The writers will be among seven honored tonight dinner at the N.C. Museum of History in Raleigh, hosted by the association and the N.C. Historical Societies. The association, a nonprofit arm of the state Office of Archives and History, administers the awards, given in seven categories annually. The office is part of the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources.

Novelist and short story writer Jill McCorkle ’80, an alumna of Carolina’s creative writing program, also will be honored. The Lumberton native will receive the R. Hunt Parker Award for Literary Achievement.

The New York Times Book Review has chosen five of McCorkle’s eight works of fiction as notable books of the year. She has taught writing at UNC, Bennington College in Vermont, and Tufts and Harvard universities.

Faculty members in UNC’s creative writing program, which is part of the English department in the College of Arts and Sciences, have landed the Roanoke-Chowan Award five times in the past six years.

Margaret Rabb ’74 won in 2000 for Granite Dives; Michael McFee ’76 in 2001 for Earthly, in a tie with former North Carolina poet laureate Fred Chappell for Family Gathering; Shapiro in 2002; and Michael Chitwood in 2003 for Gospel Road Going.

Tantalus in Love explores life, jealousy, lust and romantic abandon. The New York Times Book Review called the book “touching and intelligent, emotionally satisfying and [an] eloquent testimony to the power of poetry.”

Shapiro has written eight poetry collections plus works of criticism and two memoirs. His The Dead Alive and Busy won the 2001 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award for emerging poets. Shapiro has received two awards from the National Endowment for the Arts and a Guggenheim Fellowship.

Shapiro won an O.B. Hardison Jr. Poetry Prize from the Folger Shakespeare Library; an American Academy of Arts and Letters Award in Literature; a William Carlos Williams Award from the Poetry Society of America for Happy Hour, also a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award; and a Los Angeles Times Book Prize in Poetry for Mixed Company.

Naumoff’s Southern Tragedy captures the horror and pathos of a community tragedy and the economic downturn and mistrust that led to it. The work departs from the style of his previous novels, which The New York Times has called “laugh-aloud funny.” One of them, Taller Women: A Cautionary Tale, was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year in 1992.

His other previous novels are The Night of the Weeping Women, Rootie Kazootie, Silk Hope, NC, and A Plan for Women.

Naumoff, a Charlotte native who lives in Silk Hope, has written six novels. His previous literary prizes have included a Whiting Writer’s Award for emerging writers of exceptional talent and promise, given annually by the Mrs. Giles Whiting Foundation of New York.

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