Fall arts guide: The 10 literary events and authors we can’t wait for

Poet, teache and community arts advocate Jaki Shelton Green is North Carolina’s ninth poet laureate. Green is the first African-American and the third woman to serve as the state’s ambassador for poetry and the spoken word.
Poet, teache and community arts advocate Jaki Shelton Green is North Carolina’s ninth poet laureate. Green is the first African-American and the third woman to serve as the state’s ambassador for poetry and the spoken word.

More from the series

Fall Arts Guide 2018

Your guide to art openings, concerts, theater, dance, festivals and more in the Triangle.

Expand All

Mark your calendars, book lovers. Every day in the Triangle, there are several readings and signings to choose from.

Here are 10 of fall’s best literary events.

Jaki Shelton Green

Meet Jaki Shelton Green, North Carolina’s new state poet laureate, at several events this fall. Green is the first African-American to serve in this post. She has won the North Carolina Award for Literature in 2013 and was inducted into the North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame in 2014. Green is the author of eight books of poetry, including “Conjure Blues,” “Dead on Arrival” and “I Want To Undie You,” a remembrance of her daughter, Imani, after her death.

On Aug. 26, Quail Ridge Books will hold a tribute to her at 2 p.m. with guests including friends and colleagues in the publishing industry. She will read from her own poetry. quailridgebooks.com

On Sept. 6, at 7 p.m. she will read her work and sign books as she kicks off a new poetry series at Regulator Bookshop, 720 9th St., Durham. 919-286-2700 or regulatorbookshop.com

On Sept. 19, she will be installed in a ceremony at the State Capitol at 4:15 p.m. Admission is free, but reserved tickets are required by calling 919-807-6500 or going to NCArts.org.

Bobbie Ann Mason

Kentucky writer Bobbie Ann Mason’s nearly four decades of explorations come together in “Patchwork: A Bobbie Ann Mason Reader.” (University Press of Kentucky, May 21)

RAL_ Bobbie Ann Mason_Guy M
Author Bobbie Ann Mason has several local book events this fall. Guy Mendes

This well-organized collection stitches an assortment of her hand-selected works ranging from fiction to non-fiction. It’s divided into 17 sections, each personally selected, grouped and introduced by Mason. At the height of Mason’s career in the 1980s, many critics praised her work as revolutionary for her portrayal of ordinary characters in familiar situations. This collection also includes essays and interviews with Mason, who has not toured in several years.

The details: Sept. 25, 7 p.m. Regulator Bookshop; Sept. 28, 6 p.m. Flyleaf Books, 752 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Chapel Hill; Sept. 29, 11 a.m. McIntyre’s Books, 220 Market St., in Fearrington Village in Pittsboro.

Jodi Picoult

Bestselling author Jodi Picoult returns to the Triangle with her newest novel, “A Spark of Light,” which may ignite conversation about abortion and women’s health rights (Ballantine Books, Oct. 2). This novel explores what happens when a gunman enters a women’s health clinic and starts shooting. Each chapter counts backward an hour earlier in the day, tracking the lives of the men and women involved. Picoult is also the author of “Small Great Things.”

RAL_ Jodi Picoult Image 1 (
Author Jodi Picoult. Nina Subin

The details: Two events are Oct. 4. A literary luncheon is at noon in Fearrington Village in Pittsboro. An event at 7 p.m. is at Meredith College’s Jones Auditorium.

The literary luncheon, sponsored by McIntyre’s Books, is at The Fearrington Barn. Cost is $75 and includes lunch (with tax and gratuity), a signed copy of “A Spark of Light,” and a professional photograph with Picoult. Seats are limited. Call McIntyre’s Books at 919-542-3030 to reserve your seat or online at fearrington.com/event/a-literary-luncheon-with-jodi-picoult/

The 7 p.m. event is co-sponsored by Quail Ridge Books and Meredith Friends of the Library. To attend, place your order at Quail Ridge Books to reserve a seat. All books will be pre-signed, and a professional photographer will be at the signing. 919-828-1588 or quailridgebooks.com.

RAL_ Hal Crowtherheadshot 2
Author Hal Crowther. Courtesy of Hal Crowther

Hal Crowther

Firebrand political commentator and essayist Hal Crowther remembers the dearly departed in his new book of essays, “Freedom Fighters and Hell Raisers: A Gallery of Memorable Southerners.” (Blair, Oct. 9) The former Indy Week columnist profiles 19 men and women, including the late North Carolina Sen. Jesse Helms, African-American historian John Hope Franklin and environmentalist activist Judy Bonds. Of course, Crowther uses honey and vinegar to highlight these larger-than-life personalities. Crowther is the author of four books of essays, including “An Infuriating American” and “Cathedrals of Kudzu.”

The details: Oct. 16, 6 p.m. Purple Crow Books and the Orange County Public Library are co-sponsoring his reading at the library at 137 W. Margaret Lane, Hillsborough. 919-245-2525

Wake Forest Lit Fest

Page 158 Books and the Wake Forest Renaissance Centre for the Arts are hosting a two-day literary and art festival in and around downtown Wake Forest. This family-friendly weekend offers a stage performance, writing workshops, cooking classes, children’s story times and speed-dating with local authors. Sit down and chat with bestselling Raleigh author Diane Chamberlain or N.C. English professor and author Elaine Neil Orr. Or talk about children’s books with Wake Forest author and illustrator Jonathan Voss. He made his debut earlier this year with his picture book, “Brave Enough for Two.” (Henry Holt & Company, June 12).

The details: Oct 19-20. For details, go to Page 158’s website, page158books.com/litfest.

RAL_ Pete Souza author phot
Pete Souza, the Chief Official White House Photographer for President Obama. Patti Lease

Pete Souza

Pete Souza, the chief official White House photographer for President Barack Obama, uses photos on Instagram to illustrate the differences between Obama and President Donald Trump in his new photograph book. The photos are assembled in the new book “Shade: A Tale Of Two Presidents.” (Little, Brown and Company, Oct. 16). “Shade” includes more than 100 photographs that did not appear in his previous book, “Obama: An Intimate Portrait.”

The details: Oct 26, 6 p.m. Flyleaf Books. 919-942-7373 or flyleafbooks.com/petesouza. This will be a signing, not a presentation. Tickets are required to enter the signing line, and copies of the book must be bought at Flyleaf to get a ticket. Souza’s other book will be available for sale and signing.

“We Rise, We Resist, We Raise Our Voices”

North Carolina African-American children’s book authors Kelly Starling Lyons, Eleanora E. Tate and Carole Boston Weatherford along with illustrator Vanessa Brantley-Newton participate in a panel discussion about “Using Words and Images to Enlighten, Inspire, and Motivate.” The panelists will read their work from the anthology, “We Rise, We Resist, We Raise Our Voices.” (Crown Books for Young Readers, Sept. 4)

The details: Oct. 28, 2 p.m. Quail Ridge Books, 4209-100 Lassiter Mill Road, Raleigh, in North Hills Shopping Center. 919-828-1588

May-lee Chai

Award-winning author May-lee Chai reads and discusses her new book, “Useful Phrases for Immigrants: Stories.” It features eight stories that speak to the hopes and fears of Chinese men and women making their way through a new world, and land as well as struggling in their native environment with traditions. Chai has already won the 2018 Bakwin Award for Writing by a Woman for this collection. Chai is the author of 10 books, including her memoir “Hapa Girl” and the novel “Tiger Girl.” The event is co-sponsored by the Durham Literary Center.

RAL_ May-lee-Chai-Author-Ph
Author May-lee Chai will be at Durham's Regulator on October 30th. Jeni Fong Grace Image Photography

The details: Oct. 30, 7 p.m. Regulator Bookshop

Nell Irvin Painter

Celebrated historian Nell Irvin Painter turned to painting after her retirement from Princeton University. She shares her second act in “Old in Art School: A Memoir of Starting Over.” (Counterpoint Press, June 19) This insightful memoir reminds us that it’s never too late to start over and learn something else. Painter, a sharp observer of human behavior, explores the themes of women, artists, beauty and self-worth. She’s also the author of “Standing at Armageddon,” “Sojourner Truth” and the New York Times bestseller “The History of White People.”

The details: Nov. 8, 7 p.m. Quail Ridge Books. A limited number of reserved seats are available for this event. General unreserved seating may also be available. Receive a signing line ticket with all Quail Ridge purchases.

RAL_ NellPainter photograph
Author Nell Irvin Painter. John Emerson

Donald Davis

Get in the holiday mood with a visit with master storyteller Donald Davis. He returns to the Fearrington Barn to tell richly woven stories of his childhood. The retired Methodist minister has been piecing together these yarns for close to 40 years. Storytelling comes naturally for Davis, who grew up with a host of chatty aunts and uncles in Waynesville, in the western tip of North Carolina. Davis has been featured at the World’s Fair, the Smithsonian Institution, the National Storytelling Festival, and as guest host on NPR’s “Good Evening.”

The details: Dec. 15, 11 a.m. and Dec. 16 at 2 p.m. The Fearrington Barn, 220 Market St., in Fearrington Village in Pittsboro. 919-542-3030

The cost is a donation of canned goods and gently used children’s books. This event fills up quickly so get there early.

Bridgette A. Lacy is a freelance writer and the author of “Sunday Dinner: A Savor the South cookbook” by UNC Press of Chapel Hill. Reach her at bridgettelacy@att.net.
Related stories from Raleigh News & Observer