Each week we will be featuring the work of a talented undergraduate in the creative writing program. Find selected works and a short bio through the new left margin sidebar. Check back every Monday to find out who’s up next!
week 1: Coco Wilder
Coco Wilder lives in Carrboro, NC. She gets along well with people who care about place, memory, women, and coffee. Read her work here!
“My heart is a bear trap with a fox’s paw caught
in its teeth.”
– Joseph Mulholland
The new issue is out! For the rest of this poem and much more, pick one up on campus at Davis Library or the UL.
If you’re among our subscribers, expect yours in the mail soon!
This winter, as part of our End Is Nigh contest, we asked you to send us your dispatches about anxious endings, anticipated apocalypses, doomsday prepping, or getting right with God and family before it all comes crashing down. Contest Judge Jim Shepard was so pleased with the quality of submissions, that he couldn’t select just one grand prize winner. Instead, we have two winners and two runners up:
Grand Prize Winners ($575 each):
“When Trains Fall From Space” by Ian Bassingthwaighte
“Cold Snap” by Robin McLean
Runners Up ($150 each):
“Blood by Blood” by Dominic Russ-Combs
“A Brief Chronicle of Jeff and His Role in What is Colloquially Known as ‘The End of Civilization'” by Caitlin Campbell
“When Trains Fall From Space” and “Blood by Blood” will appear in the next issue of the Quarterly, with “Cold Snap” and “A Brief Chronicle” following in the fall.
Explaining his selections, Shepard writes:
Given that the apocalyptic and the post-apocalyptic seem to be everywhere in our mass culture, it probably shouldn’t have surprised me that the entries in the Carolina Quarterly’s “End Is Nigh” contest would have been of such a uniformly high quality, but they were, and choosing the most accomplished from among them was hard. For Runners Up, for example, I chose two stories that could easily have won any ordinary contest: first, “Blood by Blood,” with its evocation of a brother love that survives despite everything, and an imminent endtimes balefully anticipated by a hardscrabble place and a hardscrabble sensibility. And second, “A Brief Chronicle of Jeff and his Role in What is Colloquially Known as ‘The End of Civilization,’” a story that deploys its intricate intelligence with such ingenuity that it transcends its archness and lurches into the realm of the disquieting.
And the stories I chose as Co-Winners are of such dazzling achievement that I think they’d win any contest. On the one hand, there’s the heartbreaking and oddly winsome “When Trains Fall From Space,” which pulls off some of the most unlikely premises with the blithe panache of a Miranda July, and then there’s “Cold Snap,” which is a harrowing and wry and compassionate rendering of a sensibility so damaged by the more quotidian forms of isolation that the oncoming end of the world seems like a seamless extension of the loneliness the protagonist has been riding out for years. Four excellent stories: an enviable array, for any magazine. I congratulate all four writers on their artistry, and heart.
On Tuesday, April 22nd at 7pm, Michael Parker will read from his recent novel All I Have in This World, at Scuppernong Books in Greensboro. He’ll also be appearing at Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh on Thursday, May 1st at 7:30pm.
UNC Chapel Hill graduate Michael Parker is currently a Professor in the MFA Writing Program at UNC-Greensboro and holds a faculty position with the Warren Wilson Program for Writers. Author of six novels and two collections of stories, Parker’s work has been awarded the Pushcart Prize and O. Henry Prize and has been featured in various journals such as the Georgia Review, the Washington Post, and the New York Times Magazine. His short story “Love Wild” appeared in issue 44.1 of Carolina Quarterly in the fall of 1991, and in the Winter of 1996 an excerpt from his scrapped project Lake Amnesia appeared in CQ 48.2.
Lee Abbott said of his work, “Only Michael Parker can tell a story you don’t want to quit about folks you don’t want to leave…He has us all in mind—all of us who are needy and scared and running fast from the past, all of us who believe in magic and miracle, all of us beleaguered and bewitched by love.”Parker is the recipient of the Hobson Award for Arts and Letters, the North Carolina Award for Literature, and has received fellowships in fiction from the NC Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts.
Parker self-admittedly has, “…a habit of writing ‘road trip’ novels,” which explore the universal hope that either a temporary change of scenery, or a permanent geographical transition will be the thing that wipes the blackboard of our lives free from unfortunate mistakes and sour memories. For most people, though, and for Parker’s characters, these road trips “…rarely heal their wounds. It might provide some temporary peace of mind or soul, but it’s ephemeral.”
All I Have in This World susses out the relationship between tragedy and redemption and explores two strangers’ unexpectedly shared journey for reconciliation.
RAA: In the Author’s Note of All That I Have in This World, you say you woke up in the middle of the night with the idea that catalyzed the writing for this book. Is that typically how characters and stories come to you, all rushing and intrusive, begging you to leave your life for a while so you can get it all down?
MP: My stories (and novels) usually start with an image or a phrase. Rarely do I begin with an idea. I suppose the spark of All That I Have in This World can be classified as an idea—a man and a woman, complete strangers, who meet in a used car lot in West Texas and decide, after knowing each other less than an hour, to purchase a car together. But it’s also an image. I saw these two people in that car lot and I realized what they were doing there in a matter of minutes, but I think I had to see them first.
Often it’s a phrase—sometimes overheard—that sparks a story. Sometimes I begin with a title, which is unfortunate, since it is rare that the publisher allows you—or at least me—to keep the original title. But on the other hand, it doesn’t really matter if that remains the title of the book, since whatever gets you into the story is golden.
Continue reading Leaving Behind and Returning Home: An Interview with Michael Parker
By Caitlin Bailey
Bring me to the lip of the evening again, again;
palm my best parts. If we’re lucky, rain. You like talking
your way inside me, swelling the dark with spondee.
I am split air, tessellated sky. Tell me how it used to be.
Let me gorge myself even on truth, your crooked verbs.
Words forever the best meal, gorgeous mash of syllables.
Here our bodies lead secret lives, cusped and crashing.
Know everything dazzles in the right light.
Caitlin Bailey’s work has previously appeared in Bateau, Lumina, Paper Darts, Poetry City USA, Vol. 2, and elsewhere.
She is learning to live in the woods after many years in the city. More of her poems appear in the Carolina Quarterly 62.2.