local history

“Local” is eastern North Carolina, or, as it’s sometimes known, East Carolina (aka the 51st state)–never, properly, Down East–but it also encompasses almost every project I’ve undertaken, no matter its locale.

It runs the gamut from foodways to the Civil War and what its conclusion meant for those who lived in bondage at Somerset Place on Lake Phelps. But no matter the project, it’s almost always seemed that seeing it through a local lens was the best way to understand it. Maps and city directories have been essential tools to figuring out, for example, Langston Hughes in Reno as well as New Orleans during World War II, when it hosted two excellent African-American Navy bands..

With Louise Anderson, the star of “Coming into Freedom: the End of the Civil War in Eastern North Carolina,” after her performance at Somerset Place in 1990.

Leaves of Greens: The Collard Poems. Ayden, NC: Ayden Collard Festival (co-editor with Luke Whisnant), 1984.

Dreaming the Blues: Poems from Martin County Prison. Williamston, NC: Martin County Arts Council, 1984 (editor).

“Boogie in Black and White.” (television documentary) Chapel Hill, NC: The Center for Public Television. February, 1988 (writer/co-producer). Broadcast Feb. 1988: UNC-TV network (Arbitron ratings: 25,000 viewers). Re-broadcast Feb. 1989, UNC-TV; also broadcast on PBS affiliates in 26 states, D.C. and the Virgin Islands. Watch it.

“Coming into Freedom: The End of the Civil War in Eastern North Carolina” (one-woman show starring Louise Anderson with the NC Symphony and Badgett Sisters). Writer, c0-producer, co-director. Creswell, NC: Dept. of Cultural Resources (1 Sept. 1990).

Chapters in books
“Satori in Rocky Mount: Kerouac in North Carolina.” The Southern Quarterly 24.3 (Spring 1986): 35-48.
—Repr. in Kerouac at the Wild Boar. John Montgomery, ed. San Anselmo, CA: Fels & Firn Press, 1986: 29-38.
—Repr. in The Coastal Plains: Writings on the Cultures of Eastern North Carolina. Rocky Mount, NC: NC Wesleyan College P, 1989: 81-93. Buy it

“Langston Hughes Sought Solitude in Reno.” Nevada Magazine, Jan.-Feb. 2019. Read it.