BOONE—Writer R.T. (Rod) Smith has been named the 2015-16 Rachel Rivers-Coffey Distinguished Professor in Creative Writing at Appalachian State University. Smith will lead an eight-week colloquium during fall semester for students in Appalachian’s creative writing program.
Smith currently is writer-in-residence in the Department of English at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia. A frequent guest of the university’s Hughlene Bostian Frank Visiting Writers Series, Smith earned a master’s degree from Appalachian in 1976.
“My professors were not reluctant to point out where I might improve, where I needed to be more precise or support my argument with more evidence,” he said of his time as a student in Boone.
“They didn’t settle for less than the rewritten, reworked, revised and re-imagined sentence. They set high standards as both thinkers and rhetoricians, and taught me to stretch my boundaries and make room for writers I didn’t yet understand or like,” he said.
While at Appalachian, Smith founded the journal Cold Mountain Review but credits alumnus Donald Secrest who provided “encouragement and then the assistance” and “quickly assumed a formal role with the journal.”
“R.T. Smith has a rich past with Appalachian. He’s actually a bit of a legend in the English department; and, truly, his name has become synonymous with creative writing on this campus,” said Joseph Bathanti, a professor of creative writing in Appalachian’s Department of English and director of the Rivers-Coffey Professorship. Bathanti also directs of the Writing in the Field program and is writer-in-residence in the university’s Watauga Residential College.
“In 1972, R.T. founded Cold Mountain Review, which started out essentially as a venue for student work. Over time, CMR has positioned itself among the most prestigious literary journals in the nation. Since his years here, R.T. has gone on to become a writer and editor of singular renown. We could not be happier at his homecoming as this year’s Rachel Rivers-Coffey Distinguished Professor of Creative Writing.”
In addition to teaching, Smith will speak at the visiting writers series fall event Sept. 24.
Smith taught at Auburn University for 19 years and was coeditor of the Southern Humanities Review. He has edited Shenandoah: The Washington and Lee University Review since 1995 and was named writer-in-residence at Washington and Lee in 2009, where he also teaches courses on fiction writing and literature.
He is the author of the poetry collections “The Red Wolf: A Dream of Flannery O’Connor,” “In the Night Orchard: New & Selected Poems,” “Outlaw Style: Poems” and “The Hollow Log Lounge.” His short story collections include “Uke River Delivers,” “The Calaboose Epistles: Stories,” “Sherburne,” and others.
Smith has received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Virginia Commission for the Arts and has won the Cohen Prize from Ploughshares and a Pushcart Prize. He won the 2013 Carole Weinstein Prize in Poetry. His poetry has been published in “Best American Poetry” and his stories have appeared in “Best American Mystery Stories,” “The Pushcart Prize Anthology,” “New Stories from the South” and “Best American Short Stories.”
About the Rachel Rivers-Coffey Distinguished Professorship in Creative Writing
Honoring the late newspaperwoman and writer Rachel Rivers-Coffey, the Rachel Rivers-Coffey Distinguished Professorship in Creative Writing annually sponsors the residency of a writer of national prominence. The position rotates among various distinguished authors of all creative genres. Distinguished professors teach a creative writing seminar, conduct community outreach and other off-campus activities, and are featured annually in the Hughlene Bostian Frank Visiting Writers Series.
About Appalachian State University
As the premier, public undergraduate institution in the state of North Carolina, Appalachian State University prepares students to lead purposeful lives as global citizens who understand and engage their responsibilities in creating a sustainable future for all. The Appalachian Experience promotes a spirit of inclusion that brings people together in inspiring ways to acquire and create knowledge, to grow holistically, to act with passion and determination, and to embrace diversity and difference. Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Appalachian is one of 17 campuses in the University of North Carolina System. Appalachian enrolls more than 19,000 students, has a low student-to-faculty ratio and offers more than 150 undergraduate and graduate majors.
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