BOONE—Zackary Vernon, a new faculty member at Appalachian State University, is the winner of the premiere Alex Albright Creative Nonfiction Prize for his essay titled “Boone Summer: Adventures of a Bad Environmentalist.” Vernon will receive a cash prize and his essay will be published in the 25th issue of the North Carolina Literary Review (NCLR) in 2016.
“Zackary Vernon’s narrative stood out as the best of the submissions, not just because it’s so well written, but also because it is about so much more than the author’s experience. Through the lens of personal experience, he explores cultural, environmental and regional subjects that make it an important addition to our state’s tradition of excellence in nonfiction writing,” wrote Alex Albright, NCLR’s founding editor. The prize is named in his honor.
“His Boston-to-Boone nexus is a terrific hook, and I look forward to reading the book that this chapter introduces,” Albright said.
“Boone Summer: Adventures of a Bad Environmentalist” is the first chapter of Vernon’s book project on environmental and agricultural activism in the South, particularly Southern Appalachia. The essay includes the author’s internal dialogue regarding environmentalism in his personal life and the world around him, including his relationship with a neighbor and his interactions with Eustace Conway, who runs Turtle Island Preserve.
“Each chapter of the book analyzes one local activity – homesteading, fishing, hunting, skiing, hiking, eating, drinking – in order to determine whether it’s possible to be a resource-consuming and pleasure-seeking person while also being a good environmental steward,” Vernon explained.
Vernon grew up in Pawleys Island, South Carolina, and earned a B.A. in English from Clemson University. He moved to North Carolina for the master’s program in English at N.C. State University, which he completed with a thesis on North Carolina poet and fiction writer Ron Rash. Vernon went on to earn his Ph.D. in English from UNC Chapel Hill with a dissertation on literature and film of the Cold War era. In fall 2015, he joined the faculty at Appalachian as an assistant professor of contemporary American and Southern literature. He has recently contracted with the University of South Carolina Press to co-edit a book of scholarly essays on Rash.
North Carolina Literary Review Editor Margaret Bauer noted of this first recipient of the Albright Prize, “Submissions are read ‘blind’ for the competition, so it was a nice surprise when we connected the title of Alex’s selection with a familiar name, someone who has served NCLR in various capacities: Zack began reviewing books for NCLR while he was a graduate student at UNC, then went on to submit interviews and essays.” Vernon’s interview with Ron Rash and Terry Roberts about their World War I novels appeared in NCLR 2014, which also included Vernon’s Pushcart-nominated essay on Allan Gurganus.
Published since 1992 by East Carolina University and the North Carolina Literary and Historical Association, the North Carolina Literary Review has won numerous awards and citations. NCLR subscribers can read Vernon’s prize-winning essay in the 2016 issue, as well as submit their own creative nonfiction to next year’s Albright competition. For subscription information, go to http://www.nclr.ecu.edu/subscriptions.
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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