Rachel Warner receives first Paul Green Prize

The North Carolina Literary Review (NCLR) editorial staff presented the first Paul Green Prize to Rachel Warner during the launch event for its 2019 issue, held at North Carolina Central University in September.

NCLR editor Margaret Bauer noted the historical significance of announcing the award at the university where the essay subject, Zora Neale Hurston, taught in 1939–40. Warner received $250 from the Paul Green Foundation for her essay on “Zora Neale Hurston in North Carolina: Drama, Education, and Contemporary Activism,” which will appear in the 2020 issue of NCLR.

The Paul Green Prize is a new NCLR award funded by the Paul Green Foundation for content accepted for publication in NCLR that is related to North Carolina playwright Paul Green, author of the Pulitzer Prize play “In Abraham’s Bosom,” as well as “The Lost Colony” and numerous other works in various genres.

“During my first years as editor for NCLR, founding editor Alex Albright showed me a photograph of Hurston at an NCC football game, and ever since then I have hoped to have an essay about this African American literary icon in NCLR, so I was thrilled when Rachel Warner proposed the essay and then escstatic when Paul Green Foundation president and preeminent Green scholar Laurence Avery, who had served as one of the essay’s readers, recommended it for the preniere Paul Green Prize,” Bauer said.

Hurston was an African American anthropologist, filmmaker and author of the acclaimed “Their Eyes Were Watching God” (1937), among other books. Warner’s archival research explores Hurston’s six months in North Carolina, during which she taught at North Carolina College for Negroes (now NCCU) and took classes with Paul Green at UNC, effectively making her one of the first black students to integrate the flagship university.

“Over the course of my research, I learned that in addition to establishing a drama department at NCCU, Hurston had participated as a student member of a longstanding playwrighting group facilitated by Paul Green and his wife, Elizabeth. The folklorist Paddy Bowman’s audio recordings of an octogenarian Green recounting his memories of Hurston just a year before he died were instrumental in recovering some of the shape of her time spent at UNC,” Warner said.

Warner is a doctoral candidate in English and a teaching fellow at UNC Chapel Hill. Her research interests include 20th century American literature, the history of sexuality, women’s and gender studies, and animal studies. She is currently working on her dissertation, a literary and cultural history of female masculinities in turn-of-the-century to postwar American literature.

To read Warner’s prize-winning essay in NCLR 2020, subscribe to the North Carolina Literary Review. Find more information on the Paul Green Prize within the submission guidelines. Read more about the Paul Green Foundation on its website.


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