North Carolina writer Lee Smith has called Fred Chappell “our resident genius, our shining light.”
A poet and author, Chappell went from farmhand to Duke Scholar. His sophisticated writing demonstrates his rigorous studies, yet his words reveal the realities he faced growing up on a farm and time spent with nature.
The Canton native earned graduate and undergraduate degrees at Duke University and taught in the department of English at UNC Greensboro for 40 years from 1964 to 2004, where he helped establish the M.F.A. writing program. He served as the N.C. Poet Laureate from 1997 until 2002, representing the state in 250 public engagements during his tenure.
In 1999, UNC Greensboro established the Fred Chappell Creative Writing Fellowship. In 1987, he received the O. Max Gardner Award, the highest teaching award bestowed by the University of North Carolina system, and in 1988 he was named the Burlington Industries Professor of English.
Chappell is the author of more than two dozen books of poetry, fiction and literary criticism. His recent works include Shadow Box, a collection of poetry, and Ancestors and Others, a volume of new and previously published short stories. His works of fiction include I Am One of You Forever and Brighten the Corner Where You Are. His work has been translated into many languages, including Finnish, Arabic, Hindi, Chinese and Farsi.
Among the awards and honors Chappell has received over his long career are the Sir Walter Raleigh Prize (1973), the N.C. Award for Literature (1980), Yale University Library's Bollingen Prize in poetry (1985), a literature award from the National Academy of Arts and Letters (1968), the best foreign book prize from the Academie Française (1972), and the Aiken Taylor Award in poetry (1996). He was inducted into the N.C. Literary Hall of Fame inductee in 2006, and in 2010 he received the John Tyler Caldwell Award from the N.C. Humanities Council for his contribution as a writer and an educator.