Writer Al Young to deliver Thomas Wolfe Lecture Oct. 4

Writer Al Young will receive the 2011 Thomas Wolfe Prize and deliver the annual lecture on Oct. 4 at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

The free public talk is at 7:30 p.m. in the historic Playmakers Theatre.

Randall Kenan, an associate professor of English and creative writing at UNC, called Young “a master of nearly all literary trades.”

“Over the course of his remarkable career, Al Young has distinguished himself in just about every genre and style: poetry, fiction, nonfiction, criticism, personal essay and screenplays,” Kenan said. “He has become not just an artist, but a public intellectual, someone whose award-winning books give us news about where we are and where we are going collectively as well as individually.”

Young has published five novels, including” Snakes” (1970), “Who is Angelina?” (1975), “Sitting Pretty” (1976) and “Seduction by Light” (1988). His books of poetry began with “Dancing” (1969) and include numerous poetry collections. A recent volume with accompanying compact disc is “Something About the Blues: An Unlikely Collection of Poetry” (2007).

Young told the Los Angeles Times in 2005, “My philosophy many years ago changed from getting to giving, and that shift has brought about just a lot of wonderful things. It just feels good bringing poetry into people’s lives.”

Young has received Guggenheim, Fulbright and National Endowment for the Arts fellowships, the PEN-Library of Congress Award for Short Fiction, the PEN-USA Award for Nonfiction, two American Book Awards, two New York Times Notable Book of the Year citations and the Richard Wright Award for Excellence in Literature, among other prizes. He served as poet laureate of California from 2005 to 2008.

The annual lecture and prize honor Thomas Wolfe, author of “Look Homewood Angel,” who graduated from Carolina in 1920. The event is sponsored by UNC’s department of English and comparative literature and the Morgan Writer-in-Residence Program, both in the College of Arts and Sciences, and the international Thomas Wolfe Society. Ben Jones of Hendersonville, a 1950 UNC graduate, endowed the medals and prize money for the award.

Web site: http://englishcomplit.unc.edu/wolfe