Hickory – Lenoir-Rhyne University’s Visiting Writer-in-Residence is a familiar face.

Writing professor, Thomas Wolfe Center for Narrative director and current Lenoir-Rhyne Bost Distinguished Professor Award recipient Laura Hope-Gill has been selected as the writer-in-residence for the spring term when she will provide workshops on poetry and creative writing.

She is giving a presentation on her published works via Zoom on Thursday, Jan. 21 at 7 p.m. The event is open to the public.

“To have come to LR at all is an honor and a great opportunity to serve,” Hope-Gill said. “For me, it has always been about finding a location where I can do a lot of good and help people find their voices.”

Hope-Gill earned a Master of Fine Arts in poetry from Warren Wilson College and is a North Carolina Arts Fellow for Creative Nonfiction. She has published two books of architectural history and one collection of poetry, “The Soul Tree,” which earned her the title of first poet laureate of the Blue Ridge Parkway.

She joined LR in 2012 to develop the graduate writing program at The Center for Graduate Studies of Asheville and has since created the narrative health care program.

Hope-Gill’s view of the role of the writer is deeply democratic. For her, the poet and writer walk among community as witness and storyteller. Her memoir about deafness and worse silences, “The Deaf Sea Scrolls,” forthcoming from Pisgah Press in 2021, embodies this practice. The book recounts the year that she was diagnosed with sensorineural deafness, during which she drew upon her experiences teaching basic education to people on the fringe of society — displaced factory workers, students from tribal nations in the Pacific Northwest, youth in juvenile detention and a medium-security prison in Western North Carolina — to redefine herself as a person with disability, removed from her accustomed place of privilege and access.

She is currently co-writing a play with acclaimed Palestinian-British playwright, Ahmed Najar, which was supposed to be produced this spring but is now on hold. She partners with the Director of Arabic Studies at Yale University, Dr. Jonas Elbousty, on translations and a book club focusing on contemporary global literature. She is connected with scientists and writers in Scotland through the Scottish Centre of Geopoetics and frequently teaches and interviews foremost Scottish climate campaigner and human ecologist, and indigenous Scot, Alastair McIntosh.

Hope-Gill defied family tradition by choosing the path of writing over the path of medicine and now reconciles these not-so-divergent paths by heading the narrative healthcare program. Surgeons, physicians, counselors and nurses have developed their listening and caring skills through the study of story. Currently, she partners with Western Carolina Medical Society to provide writing guidance to doctors and is co-editor of the North Carolina Literary Review’s forthcoming issue on Writing and Healing.

LR’s writer-in-residence program is sponsored through LR’s Visiting Writers Series, which is in the midst of its 32nd year. Sponsors for the 2020-21 Visiting Writers Series include Cafe Rule, Crowne Plaza Hickory, Footcandle Film Society of Catawba County, Hickory Public Library and National Endowment for the Arts.
Professor Laura Hope-Gill