A reconsideration of the roots of Blackbeard, examination of respected North Carolina Gov. Kerr Scott and recognition of the edgy Manbites Dog Theater of Durham were among the highlights at the 2015 North Carolina Book Awards Nov. 13 in Raleigh.
The 115th annual meeting of the N.C. Literary and Historical Association featured an evening keynote address by “Barefoot to Avalon” author David Payne of Hillsborough.
The afternoon session honored William Powell, considered dean of North Carolina historians, who died in April. Author Lee Craig, N.C. State University, reviewed “Josephus Daniels: His Life and Times,” which examines the career of the newspaperman, cabinet secretary and democratic powerbroker. The final afternoon presentation, “Blackbeard’s Family Records,” highlighted the work of Baylus Brooks, graduate student in East Carolina University’s Maritime Studies Program.
When you watch a tragic accident that takes the life of your brother and you feel responsible, many feelings are set in motion. Such a situation is recounted in Payne’s “Barefoot to Avalon.” The author shared a tale of difficult family dynamics, bipolar disorder and the complex elements contributing to the whole in everyday life.
The Hardee Rives Award for Dramatic Art was presented to Manbites Dog Theater, a company whose purpose is to present new and challenging theater and to support developing playwrights.
Located at 703 Foster St., Manbites Dog Theater has called the Warehouse District home since establishing a permanent theater space there in 1998. In the tight-knit Durham theater community, Manbites has been an important locus for local artists, with various groups staging events there and otherwise collaborating with owner/directors Jeff Storer and Edward Hunt.
The Sir Walter Award for Fiction was presented to Pam Durban for “Soon,” a collection of short stories that centers on relationships, how people hold on to one another and the role of hope in individual lives. She teaches at UNC-Chapel Hill.
North Carolina’s transformation from a backwater state to a progressive political power after World War II is highlighted in “The Political Career of W. Kerr Scott: The Squire from Haw River.” The title won for Julian M. Pleasants of Davidson the Ragan Old North State Award for nonfiction.
The R.D.W. Connor Award was presented to Kenneth Janken, director of the UNC-Chapel Hill Center for the Study of the American South, for the article “Remembering the Wilmington 10” published in the North Carolina Historical Review.
The poems found in “The Miraculous Turning,” are referred to as conversational, profound, wry and witty. They celebrate “the epiphanies of daily life,” and earned for Joseph Mills the Roanoke-Chowan Award for Poetry. He teaches in the UNC School of the Arts.
North Carolina’s Appalachian Mountains provide the setting for “Anybody Shining,” in which a young girl longs to find connection with a true friend. The 1920s tale won for author Frances O’Roark Dowell the American Association of University Women Award for Juvenile Literature.
Daphne Athas of Carrboro, former creative writing teacher at UNC-Chapel Hill, received the R. Hunt Parker Award for significant contributions to literature in North Carolina.
The author of 27 books about North Carolina, Frank Stephenson of Murfreesboro was presented the Christopher Crittenden Memorial Award for significant contributions to history. The Hugh T. Lefler Award for best undergraduate paper was awarded to Micah Khater, N.C. State University, for “There Will Be Political Dirty Work: Gendered Expression of Black Resistance in United States v John Cashion (1936).”
Outstanding achievements in preserving local history are recognized with the Albert Ray Newsome Awards from the Federation of North Carolina Historical Societies. One of two 2015 recipients was the Currituck County Historical Society for its five-year commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War. Efforts included sponsoring seven Civil War Trail markers, publishing a commemorative poster featuring drawings of a Union Soldier in 1862, a wreath-laying and other programs.
The other Newsome Award recipient was the Cape Fear Museum in Wilmington for the photography exhibition, “Reflections in Black and White” that explored race relations in Wilmington during the latter part of the Jim Crow era. “Reflections” uses everyday snapshots to showcase the everyday experiences of African-Americans and whites in the city, and asked audiences to reflect on the decades of the 1940s through the 1960s.
Student Publication Awards, High School Division, were presented to “Stone Soup,” Enloe High School, Raleigh, first place; “Roars and Whispers,” Providence High School, Charlotte, second place; “Portraits in Ink,” Durham School of the Arts, also second place; “Alchemy in the 21st Century,” Carolina Day School, Asheville, third place.
The Middle School Division first place winner is “Illusions,” Martin Middle School, Raleigh; second place, “Paw Printz,” Randleman Middle School, Randleman; and the third place winner is “Diverse Universe,” Smithfield Middle School, Smithfield.
Now playing at Manbites Dog Theater
Charlie Chaplin’s ‘Tramp’ character is the lone survivor of a super-atomic blast in “The Tramp’s New World,” a stage adaptation of James Agee’s screenplay, created and performed by Rob Jansen, and directed by Joseph Megel. Performances Thursday-Sunday Dec 3-6, Thursday-Sun Dec 10-13, Wednesday-Saturday Dec 16-19. Shows at 8:15 p.m.. except Sunday, Dec. 6, at 2 p.m. and Sunday, Dec 13, at 7:30 p.m. Tickets $20 weekends, $12 weeknights. Discounts for Senior/Military/Youth/Students. Manbites Dog Theater, 703 Foster Street Durham. More info: www.manbitesdogtheater.org or 919.682.3343.