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Kathryn Stripling Byer, 1944-2017 – from the North Carolina Writers’ Network

CULLOWHEE—In 2013, we held the Squire Summer Writing Residency at Western Carolina University, where Kathryn Stripling Byer taught for so many years, and she led the poetry workshop at the Residency that weekend.

WCU was a welcoming host and venue, with one exception: in the building where we slept and took our classes, the air conditioning was stuck on overdrive, and we were freezing.

And then, after our first lunch together, Kay disappeared.

It’s not unusual for an instructor to isolate themselves before a workshop session, to take some time to review lesson plans or read manuscripts, so I wasn’t concerned. That’s not what Kay was doing, though. Five minutes before the workshop was to resume, Kay pulled up to the building’s back door and asked me and Charles to help unload her car.

She had driven home, collected every blanket and (of course) quilt she could find, filled her car with them, and brought them to share with her students staying in that icebox of a dorm. Continue reading

Guest columnist: The arts are a life raft for our kids

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