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Siler City native receives 2006 N.C. Awards for Literature

Posted Friday, November 10, 2006

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Greensboro, NC Two of the recipients of the 2006 North Carolina Awards, the highest civilian honor given in the state, have ties to The University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

Michael Parker, a novelist and professor of creative writing and literature at UNCG, and writer Emily Herring Wilson, a 1961 graduate of Woman’s College, received the awards from Gov. Mike Easley Nov. 8 in Raleigh. The awards are made annually in the categories of fine arts, literature, public service and science. Both Parker and Wilson were honored for their contributions to literature.

Parker, a Siler City native who now lives in Greensboro, has published three novels and several short story collections. His novels include “Hello Down There,” “Towns Without Rivers,” “Virginia Lovers” and “If You Want Me to Stay.” His works have already earned him the Pushcart Prize, the Goodheart Prize for Fiction and the O. Henry Award. He has received fellowships from the North Carolina Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts.

“My work is set here,” Parker said. “Almost all of it is set here in North Carolina. To get some recognition from the state is really wonderful.”

Parker, who joined the MFA Creative Writing Program faculty in 1992, is currently working on another collection of stories, “Don’t Make Me Stop Now.” That collection will be published by Algonquin Press of Chapel Hill in January. He began writing in high school and quickly fell in love with his craft. “That’s what I always wanted to do. I guess if you’re persistent and stubborn enough things work out in the end. Stories are important to our spiritual health. There’s great value in storytelling.”

Wilson, who studied poetry with Randall Jarrell while at Woman’s College, has published poetry collections, books on philanthropy and oral histories. A recent project was the book “Two Gardeners: Katharine S. White and Elizabeth Lawrence — A Friendship in Letters.” Wilson was later offered a contract for a Lawrence biography, published in 2005 as “No One Gardens Alone.” She is working to preserve Lawrence’s house and garden in Charlotte.

“I think there is a mystery about her because she lived a private life,” Wilson said of Lawrence, a gardener and writer. “I wanted to pay homage to a woman I thought had been slighted in history — not just Elizabeth Lawrence, but also women like her.”

Wilson has served on the boards of the North Carolina Writers’ Network, the People for the American Way and the advisory panel for the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation. She has been a fellow of the MacDowell Colony and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. She and her husband, Ed, live in Winston-Salem.

Other honorees this year were Dr. Charles A. Sanders of Durham, for science; Thomas K. Hearn of Winston-Salem, James E. Holshouser, Jr. of Southern Pines and Roy Parker, Jr. of Fayetteville, all for public service; and William T. Williams of New York City, for fine arts. An awards committee chaired by Jack Cozort selected the recipients from nominations submitted by the public. Other committee members were Nick Bragg, Jean W. McLaughlin, Hal Crowther and Shirley T. Frye.

Created by the General Assembly in 1961, the North Carolina Awards have been presented annually since 1964. More than 200 outstanding North Carolinians have been selected as recipients from citizen nominations from across the state.

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Siler City native receives 2006 N.C. Awards for Literature