Page 31

North Carolina African American Literature

N C L R ONLINE

31

PHOTOGRAPH BY DAVID POTORTI

“I ACCEPT THIS SIGNIFICANT HONOR AS A CHALLENGE, NOT ONLY TO BE A BETTER PERSON AND A BETTER WRITER, BUT TO BE A BETTER TEACHER.” – RANDALL KENAN

As I mentioned, by the time we “IF YOU THINK ABOUT NORTH CAROLINA WRITERS , met, Randall Kenan had published his first novel, A Visitation of Spirits THE THING THAT SETS US APART FROM A GREAT MANY STATES (1989) and a collection of short stories, Let the Dead Bury Their Dead AND WRITING COMMUNITIES IS OUR TEACHERS.” – RANDALL KENAN (1992), nominated for the Los Angeles Times Book Award for Fiction, and among the New York Times Notable Books of 1992. Creative Writing at the University of Memphis (1999), The next year he published a young adult biography of and held the Lehman Brady Professorship at the CenJames Baldwin (1993) and wrote the text for Norman ter for Documentary Studies at Duke University (2003– Mauskopf ’s book of photographs, A Time Not Here: The 2004). Randall Kenan is no stranger to accolades – he Mississippi Delta (1996). The year after that Faulkner is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Whiting conference encounter, he published his stunning chroniWriters Award, the Sherwood Anderson Award, the John cle of the diversity of Black life, Walking on Water: Black Dos Passos Award, and the 1997 Rome Prize from the American Lives at the Turn of the Twenty-First Century American Academy of Arts and Letters. He was awarded (1999), which was nominated for the Southern Book the North Carolina Award for Literature in 2005. He is Award. He published his second work of nonfiction, The truly a North Carolina Son, in every respect. Fire This Time, in 2007. Toward the end of Walking on Water, Randall Kenan Like Toni Morrison, Randall Kenan spent his time turns to reflect upon his own life: “I grew up surrounded before his books (1985–1989) as part of the editorial by stories and antics and foibles and gossip and artistaff for Alfred A. Knopf. In 1989, he began teaching facts and something like love, though the many feelings writing at Sarah Lawrence College and Columbia Uniengendered by life in a small town are much more comversity. He was the first William Blackburn Visiting Proplex and tangled than most people who’ve never lived fessor of Creative Writing at Duke University in 1994 in one, belonged to one, could ever imagine.”* Randall and the Edouard Morot-Sir Visiting Professor of Creating Kenan, I read your work when I am in despair and I read Writing at UNC Chapel Hill in 1995. He was the John and it when I am joyful. It cures what ails me and makes me Renee Grisham Writer in Residence at the University of proud to share breath with you in this place called the Mississippi in Oxford (1997–1998), Visiting Professor of North Cack. Congratulations, my friend. n

ABOVE Randall Kenan with 2016 inductee Clyde Edgerton

and fellow 2018 inductee Jill McCorkle after the induction ceremony, Southern Pines, 7 Oct. 2018 (Find a story on McCorkle’s induction in the Flashbacks section, and watch Kenan’s acceptance remarks via the North Carolina Writers’ Network’s Youtube.)

* Randall Kenan, Walking on Water: Black American Lives at the Turn of the Twenty-First Century (Knopf, 1999) 606. Holland read here an excerpt of Randall Kenan’s “Chinquapin: Elementary Particles,” from Amazing Place: What North Carolina Means to Writers, ed. Marianne Gingher (U of North Carolina P, 2015). Listen to this excerpt via the North Carolina Writers’ Network’s Youtube.

Profile for East Carolina University

North Carolina Literary Review Online 2019  

A literary review published online annually by East Carolina University and by the North Carolina Literary and Historical Association.

North Carolina Literary Review Online 2019  

A literary review published online annually by East Carolina University and by the North Carolina Literary and Historical Association.

Advertisement