UNCW Creative Writing Professor Philip Gerard has won the North Carolina Award for literature. It’s the state’s highest civilian honor. WHQR reports on the local writing and education leader’s 30-year career.
It’s been a couple of weeks since Gerard first received a call from Susi Hamilton, Secretary of the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, telling him he’d been selected for the Award. He says the call sent him floating, knowing that his peers nominated him.
But of all his accomplishments, Gerard says what makes him most proud:
"The MFA program at the University of North Carolina Wilmington that’s something I had a very big hand in starting at the very beginning. I did the feasibility study, wrote the documents, argued it in Chapel Hill, and ultimately worked with the Chancellor, the Dean, the Provost, and the Graduate Dean to get it in place. And it has been a joy to live in that universe and watch so many young, talented writers come through and watch the light bulbs just go off in big ways and then watch their books and stories and poems come out the other end."
His other achievements include writing 13 books of fiction and nonfiction. His seminal work, Cape Fear Rising, is based on the 1898 coup d’état in Wilmington. He also helped establish the City’s Art Council.
Five other people are being honored by the state for their contributions to public service, science, and the arts.
The ceremony takes place on Saturday in Raleigh.