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North Carolina Literary People: Conversations with River Writers

  • Tuesdays, 6–7:30 pm, September 24, November 12, 2013; January 28 February 11, and March 11, 2014
  • $20 per session or the entire series for $60
  • Free admission with student ID.

In collaboration with UNC Press, the Friday Center will offer an educational series featuring North Carolina River Writers. The series will explore North Carolina’s mighty rivers—from the mountains to the coastal plain—and how these waters have inspired so many stories, novels, plays, and poems by our state’s writers. 

The series will consist of four sessions held at the Friday Center. In each session, the author will present a short reading/lecture about his or her work, followed by an interview and discussion led by Georgann Eubanks, author of Literary Trails of North Carolina.  

Georgann Eubanks is a writer, teacher, and consultant to nonprofit groups across the country. She is director of the Table Rock Writers Workshop, was a founder of the North Carolina Writers' Network, and is past chair of the North Carolina Humanities Council. She lives in Carrboro, North Carolina.


The Series


Tom Earnhardt, author of Crossroads of the Natural World

September 24, 6–7:30 pm. Course #3122

Author Tom Earnhardt will discuss his new UNC Press book, Crossroads of the Natural World: Exploring North Carolina. The session will include an overview of literature about rivers and a discussion of the importance of rivers to North Carolina’s ecology and identity.

Tom Earnhardt, a lawyer by profession, is a committed conservationist and environmentalist. He is also the writer, co-producer, and host of the popular television program Exploring North Carolina, which airs on UNC-TV.



Jill McCorkle, author of Life After Life

November 12, 6–7:30 pm. Course #3123

American novelist and short story writer Jill McCorkle will talk about the influence of the Lumber River in her short stories and novels.

Jill McCorkle is the author of nine previous books—four story collections and five novels—five of which have been selected as New York Times Notable Books. The recipient of the New England Book Award, the John Dos Passos Prize for Excellence in Literature, and the North Carolina Prize for Literature, she teaches writing at North Carolina State University and lives in Hillsborough, North Carolina.




Randall Kenan, author of Let the Dead Bury Their Dead

January 28 February 11, 6–7:30 pm. Course #3124

Author Randall Kenan will present a session from his book, Let the Dead Bury Their Dead, a series of short stories set in Tim’s Creek. 

Randall Kenan is an associate professor of English at UNC-Chapel Hill. His first novel, A Visitation of Spirits, was published by Grove Press in 1989.  His collection of stories, Let the Dead Bury Their Dead, was nominated for the Los Angeles Times Book Award for Fiction, was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, and was among The New York Times Notable Books of 1992. He was awarded the North Carolina Award for Literature in 2005.

(This session was rescheduled due to adverse weather. If you have already paid for this session but cannot attend the February 11 date, we invite you to attend the Philip Gerard session instead. If you would prefer a refund, contact Jill Conrad,



Philip Gerard, author of Down the Wild Cape Fear

March 11, 6–7:30 pm. Course #3125

Author Philip Gerard will discuss his new UNC Press book, Down the Wild Cape Fear.

Philip Gerard is professor and chair of the Department of Creative Writing at UNC Wilmington. He is the author of seven books, eleven documentary scripts, and numerous short stories and essays.




Courses are held at the Friday Center, which offers ample free parking. The Friday Center is located approximately three miles east of the UNC-Chapel Hill campus, just off Highway 54 East (Raleigh Road). The Center is a short distance from Interstate 40 (from Raleigh, I-40 exit 273A; from Greensboro, I-40 exit 273). See Map and Directions to the Friday Center.


For information, contact:

Jill Conrad (, Program Facilitator
Professional Development and Enrichment Programs
The Friday Center
800-845-8640 or 919-962-2643

Other Reading Recommendations

An extraordinary diversity of plants and animals flourishes in North Carolina's seventeen river basins from the mountains to our brackish estuaries. Much in the same way that a unique species—the Venus' Fly Trap, Gray's Lily, or Oconee Bell—arises out of and flourishes in our natural communities, great writers are nourished and shaped by rivers and the natural landscapes through which they flow.

Click here for a list of Tar Heel authors influenced by their river addresses.