by Garland Rieman, Digital Communications Intern
In recognition of his outstanding contributions to North Carolina’s literary history, UNC-Chapel Hill professor and writer Michael McFee has been awarded the 2019 Thomas and Ellie D. Chaffin Award from Morehead State University.
Awarded annually since 1996, the Chaffin Award honors writers who inhabit and examine Appalachian landscapes in their creative work. The award itself offers the chance for awardees to pose literary discussions, teach workshops and speak about their work as a local writer. This unique aspect of the award allows students the opportunity to interact with a published author active in the Appalachian region and gain valuable insight from their experience.
McFee is the 23rd recipient of the Chaffin Award and will lead discussions and workshops at Morehead State University this coming academic year. A native of Asheville and an alumni of UNC- Chapel Hill himself, McFee has taught in the Creative Writing Program since 1990 and over the years has developed a rich and diverse body of work. The author of sixteen books, eleven volumes of poetry and two essay collections, McFee has also served as an editor of several anthologies of North Carolina literature, and a full list of his publications can be found here. McFee’s most celebrated works include Vanishing Acts and We Were Once Here, his novel published just last year. His work is best known for, as hosts of the North Carolina Public Radio Frank Stasio and Laura Pellicar state, “creating rich images of his native Appalachia that are grounded in the simplicity of everyday life and in the unique language used by his family over generations” and offer fascinating insight into his native region.
In addition to the Chaffin Award, McFee has also received the James Still Award for Writing about the Appalachian South, the Thomas Wolfe Memorial Literary Award and the 2018 North Carolina Award in Literature, the highest civilian honor awarded by the state.