Fred Chappell, professor emeritus of English, will read from his latest book, “Ancestors and Others,” Thursday, March 18.
The reading begins at 7 p.m. in the Alumni House on College Avenue.
Chappell, a poet and a writer of short stories and novels, taught in the Department of English from 1964 until his retirement in 2004. He was North Carolina’s Poet Laureate from 1997-2002.
“Ancestors and Others” is a collection of short stories, many of them previously published. The stories -– at once humorous, mythic, magical and surreal –- reflect Chappell’s diverse talent. There’s a tale of a botanist who uncovers tiny worlds within his plants. A story of old women looking for rare roses in a graveyard. A story of two children unsettled by a doll’s amputated foot.
And a story about a dream blocking a highway, Highway 51 between Turkey Knob and Ember Forks. “It’s worse than a dream, though,” one character theorizes in “Mankind Journeys Through Forests of Symbols,” “because we may be dealing with a subconscious poet. It may be this person never writes poems in the normal course of his life. If this poem originated in the mind of someone who never thinks of writing, then I’m afraid your highway detour will have to be more or less permanent.”
Chappell has authored more than 40 books of poetry, fiction and essays. He has previously won, among other honors, Yale University Library’s Bollingen Prize in Poetry, France’s Prix de Meilluer des Livres Etrangers and the T.S. Eliot Prize.