Dr. Margaret D. Bauer, professor of literature at East Carolina University and editor of the North Carolina Literary Review, was presented with the state’s top civilian honor, the North Carolina Award, by Governor Roy Cooper during a Nov. 9 ceremony in Raleigh.
The award, presented annually since 1964, is administered by the N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources. It recognizes significant contributions to the state and nation in the fields of fine art, literature, public service and science. Past recipients include William Friday, Romare Bearden, James Taylor, Gertrude Elion, John Hope Franklin, David Brinkley, Maya Angelou, Billy Graham and Branford Marsalis.
Bauer is ECU’s Rives Chair of Southern Literature and has served as editor of NCLR since 1997, when she took over the reins from founding editor Alex Albright. The award-winning journal, which gives voice to writers of fiction, non-fiction and poetry who live in or are inspired by North Carolina, celebrated the publication of its 25th anniversary edition last year.
Bauer is the author of “The Fiction of Ellen Gilchrist,” “William Faulkner’s Legacy,” “Understanding Tim Gautreaux,” and “A Study of Scarletts: Scarlett O’Hara’s Literary Daughters,” as well as numerous articles on Southern writers in scholarly journals. In 2007, Bauer was named one of ECU’s Women of Distinction and received the Parnassus Award for Significant Editorial Achievement from the Council of Editors of Learned Journals. She is also a recipient of ECU’s Scholar/Teacher Award, Centennial Award for Excellence in Leadership, and most recently, the Lifetime Achievement Award in Research and Creative Activity.
On Nov. 17, Bauer will receive the R. Hunt Parker Memorial Award, which is presented annually by the N.C. Literary and Historical Association to acknowledge significant contributions to the literary life of North Carolina.
Bauer, who calls herself a “writer groupie,” said she enjoys publishing and promoting the work of both established and fledgling writers.
“I treasure the opportunities I’ve had to meet my favorite writers, but like them, I also relish the times I’ve gotten to tell a new writer her story won a prize and will be published in our next issue — and to find out it will be her first publication,” she said. “Recently, someone said to me that I had the English major’s dream job. Indeed, I do.”
A native of Louisiana, Bauer now does her writing overlooking the Pamlico River and has become a vocal proponent of the artists and writers of North Carolina, which she calls “the writingest state.”
“It has been an honor and a privilege to serve as an ambassador for North Carolina’s rich literary history, promoting our writers, who set such a fine example of how communities work so incredibly well when they support each other, literary stars encouraging their audiences to read someone’s debut novel,” she said.
Many of North Carolina’s top writers have contributed to NCLR and have praised Bauer’s efforts.
“It’s hard for me to imagine a North Carolina writer these days who’s not indebted to Margaret Bauer for the almost frightening energy she devotes to studying, publishing and promoting the literature of our state,” said Charles Frazier, author of “Cold Mountain.”
Ed Southern, executive director of the North Carolina Writers’ Network, says the publication serves as a flagship for the state’s literary community.
“Each issue shows off the state at its best, especially because Margaret and her staff don’t just keep going back to the same well of favorites (no matter how deep and refreshing that well may be),” he said in an interview for ECU’s East magazine. “They’ve made the re-discovery of forgotten or neglected North Carolina writers an integral part of their mission, and made sure to show off many of our new and emerging writers, as well.”
In the coming years, Bauer’s vision for NCLR includes working with the ECU Foundation to raise funds for a $2 million endowment to ensure its continued publication.
The other five 2017 North Carolina Award recipients are Philip G. Freelon of Durham for fine arts; R.K.M. Jayanty of Cary for science; the Honorable Loretta E. Lynch of Durham for public service; Jane Smith Patterson of Chapel Hill for public service; and James H. Woodward of Charlotte for public service.
“It is such a privilege to honor these remarkable people who have made North Carolina better through their extraordinary accomplishments,” said Susi H. Hamilton, secretary of the N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources. “Each of them has enriched the lives of our citizens and enhanced our state’s reputation as a center of culture, arts, science and public service.”