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Turn your poems into a manuscript with the North Carolina Poetry Society

Steve Cushman is one of the poets in the North Carolina Poetry Association. Photo courtesy of the North Carolina Poetry Society Facebook.

The North Carolina Poetry Society is hosting a manuscript preparation workshop to give aspiring poets tips on how to publish their work on March 16. The workshop is a precursor to Lena Shull Book Awards, which the society has hosted since 2014. The winner gets their poetry manuscript published, as well as $250.

For just two hours at the Chapel Hill Library,Tori Reynolds, coordinator of the contest, said attendees can learn everything they need to know about creating a manuscript.

“So this manuscript workshop is for anyone who wants to come,” Reynolds said. “It’s free and open to the public. Everybody who is trying to do that mountainous task —  climb that mountain of putting a full length manuscript together. Because it is different than just saying, ‘Oh I’ve written 50 poems,' and that's the book.”

Reynolds said she hopes the workshop will answer people's questions about manuscripts and help them realize that they can do it. 

The workshop consists of a panel featuring four past winners of the contest. Attendees of the workshop will be able to talk to the former winners and ask for advice.

Cushman said the society has opened doors for him, but he wants workshop attendees to know that he submitted to the contest many times before winning.

“I guess part of the panel is just sort of realizing that going out and writing your poems is one thing, but actually shaping them into sort of a cohesive whole is another thing,” Cushman said.

Harrington has been writing poetry for 10 years and says that this contest has given her a platform for poetry she didn’t have before. She said she encourages poets of all experience levels to come out.

“I think for beginning poets or poets who are more towards the beginning end, it’s helpful for them to learn what is involved in pulling together manuscripts, making manuscripts,” Harrington said. 

Historically, the winners of the Lena Shull Book Contest have not included undergraduate students. But Reynolds said this year they are hoping to change that.

“We’re really interested in broadening our visibility with undergraduates, graduates,” Reynolds said. “I think maybe the adult population in North Carolina knows there's a poetry society. But we really would love to have much more diversity in terms of the age of people in the society.”

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