WILSON, N.C. — Barton College will welcome poet Shelby Stephenson as the featured speaker for the annual Joyce T. Boone Southern Authors Series. The lecture will be held on Wednesday, Sept. 14, in The Sam and Marjorie Ragan Writing Center at 7:30 p.m. The program is open to the public at no charge, and the community is invited to attend.

Stephenson grew up on a small farm near Benson, in the Coastal Plain of North Carolina. “Most of my poems come out of that background where memory and imagination play on one another,” he shared. “I have written many poems about the mules we worked until I was in the seventh grade and, after that, the tractor. My early teachers were the thirty-five foxhounds my father hunted. The trees and streams, fields, the world of my childhood–all that folklore–those are my subjects.”

After leaving the farm for college, Stephenson received his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where he also studied law.  He completed his Master of Arts degree from the University of Pittsburgh, and his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison; along the way, he worked as a radio and television announcer, salesman, right-of-way agent, and farmer. Stephenson is professor emeritus at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke, and he served as editor of “Pembroke Magazine” from 1979 until his retirement in 2010. The state of North Carolina presented him with the 2001 North Carolina Award in Literature, and he has received the Zoe Kincaid Brockman Memorial Award and the Playwright’s Fund of North Carolina Chapbook Prize.

In addition to a poetic documentary, “Plankhouse” (with photographs by Roger Manley), Stephenson has published “Middle Creek Poems,” “Carolina Shout!,” “Finch’s Mash,” “The Persimmon Tree Carol,” “Poor People,” “Greatest Hits,” and “Fiddledeedee.” His most recent book is “Family Matters: Homage to July, the Slave Girl,” which won the 2008 Bellday Prize for poetry and the 2009 Oscar Arnold Young Award sponsored by the Poetry Council of North Carolina. With his wife Linda, Stephenson has also made the CD and cassette “Hank Williams Tribute.” They live on the farm where he was born.

The Joyce T. Boone Endowed Lectureship for Southern Authors was established in memory of the late Joyce Thornton Boone by her husband, Doug Boone. This endowed lectureship supports special programs featuring visiting Southern writers.

Boone graduated from Atlantic Christian College with degrees in business administration (1978) and nursing (1988). An enthusiastic advocate for students and alumni of Barton College, Boone believed in the mission of the small, private, liberal arts college. She served on both the Barton College Board of Trustees and the Barton Alumni Council. Boone was president-elect of the Barton College Alumni Council when she passed away in October 2004.

For additional information about this program, please contact Dr. Jim Clark, chair of the Department of English and Modern Languages and the Elizabeth H. Jordan Endowed Chair for Southern Literature, at 252-399-6450 or email: jclark@barton.edu.

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Questions?  Please contact Kathy Daughety, director of public relations, at 252-399-6529 or email: kdaughety@barton.edu.

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