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Poet James Applewhite Featured at Unique Greenville Gallery Exhibit

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Poet James Applewhite (left) with artist Michael Knoch at City Art Gallery in Greenville; photograph courtesy of City Art Gallery.

Poetry giant James Applewhite, Greenville’s City Art Gallery, and the North Carolina Literary Review (NCLR) collaborated on an exhibit of original artwork inspired by the poet’s work. A reading by Applewhite opened the show, which featured the work of artists who used paint, photography, sculpture and ceramics to interpret selected poems.

City Art Gallery, owned by Peg Hardee and Torrey Stroud, hosted the opening on January 13, and the exhibit will run through February 6.

“Dr. Applewhite did a great job entertaining the crowd, and I think people responded well,” said Hardee. “This was different from a typical show, in that the common thread was poetry, not the works of a specific artist or group. The literary aspect also drew some people you might not typically draw.”

Hardee added that the idea was suggested by artist Louis St. Lewis, a fan of poetry and short stories whose work has been selected for inclusion in past issues of NCLR.

“This was an invitational for a group of artists we represent,” she said. “We consulted with Diane Rodman (NCLR’s Art Editor) to decide on the poet. She came up with the poems and then helped us hone them down. We read ten to fifteen poems and chose three we thought would give inspiration.”

The poems chosen were “Pamlico River,” “January Farmhouse,” and “Greene County Pastoral” from Applewhite’s Selected Poems, published in 2005 by Duke University Press.

Introducing the poet, NCLR Editor Margaret Bauer welcomed him “home” to eastern North Carolina. Professor Applewhite was born in Stantonsburg and is retired from Duke University after almost forty years on the faculty. He is a four-time winner of the Roanoke-Chowan Poetry Award, given by the North Carolina Literary and Historical Association. He has received the North Carolina Award for Literature and is a 2008 inductee into the North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame. His next book, due out soon from LSU Press, will be his twelfth volume of poetry. His poetry was featured in the 2010 issue of NCLR and more is forthcoming in the 2011 issue.

“Seeing Dr. Applewhite’s poetry translated into works of art was a unique experience for all who attended,” said Rodman. “This event was the first of its kind for City Art Gallery and NCLR. It was a tremendous success.”

City Art Gallery is located at 511 Red Banks Road in Greenville. More information about the exhibit, artists, and hours of operation can be found on their website.

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