The Charles B. Wood Award for Distinguished Writing
Charles Barnette Wood was born in 1906 in Roxboro, North Carolina. He attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill from 1924 to 1929, studied with such luminaries as Frank Porter Graham, Dexter Keezer, and Walter Spearman, earned membership in Phi Beta Kappa, and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English. Following his undergraduate career, Wood served nine years as a naval officer. He then continued his education by earning a law degree from Duke University, after which he returned to his home in Roxboro, where he enjoyed a successful and distinguished legal practice.
Throughout his life Wood had an enduring passion for good literature and a deep appreciation of language. He understood the magic and power of words and used them with precision and grace. Those who talked with him or read his writing quickly recognized him as a man of words–a storyteller who upheld the richness of the oral tradition. Wood also deeply loved the South, its people, and many of its traditions. His love of the South and his gifts as a writer are apparent in his debut novel, First, The Fields, published in 1941 by the University of North Carolina Press.
Following Wood’s death on July 20, 1986, his wife, Frances Becket Wood, and his children, Sally Wood McDonald, Julia Turbiville Wood, Carolyn Cordelia Wood, and John Charles Wood, endowed this award to honor Charles’s lifelong commitments to excellence in writing, to the South, and to the quality of undergraduate education available at the University of North Carolina.
The Charles B. Wood Award for Distinguished Writing awards $500 to the author of the best poem or short story The Carolina Quarterly publishes during the year. The endowment stipulates that the winner be an emerging writer; therefore, only those writers without major publications can be considered for this award.
The winner of the 2003 Charles B. Wood Award for Distinguished Writing is Bernadette Maria Joolen, for her story, “Seven Sketches for Papa.” The story appeared in Issue 55.2, earlier this year. The final judge for this year’s contest was Jerry Leath Mills, Professor of English, Emeritus, UNC-Chapel Hill. Since his retirement in 1997, Mills has served as Visiting Professor of English at East Carolina University and as Professor of Humanities at Colby-Sawyer College in New Hampshire. He writes, “This entry tells three stories at once–the daughter’s, the father’s, and the story that they share–with both differentiation and unity, with sensitivity and tact, and in a style that releases its narrative at once economically and with richness of implication. It is a truly masterful story.”
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