Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Profile of Tony Abbott

Poet, Scholar, Teacher, and Novelist to Appear at Poetry Hickory

Over the course of a lengthy career in the arts and letters, Anthony Abbott has distinguished himself well beyond what most could hope for in not one area but several. As an instructor, he spent more than 30 years as a distinguished member of the English faculty at prestigious Davidson College, serving as Chair of the department for the final 7 years of his career. As a scholar he authored the noteworthy studies Shaw and Christianity and The Vital Lie: Reality and Illusion in Modern Drama.

As a novelist, his first foray into the field, Leaving Maggie Hope, was awarded the Novello Award. And as a poet, his first collection, The Girl in the Yellow Raincoat, was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. Most writers and scholars labor in obscurity hoping to achieve just one distinction equal to any of these.

Unlike others, Abbott also has not rested on his laurels but has followed up these successes with the publication of a second novel and four subsequent collections of poetry, the most recent, New and Selected Poems, having come out earlier this year from Lorimer Press. He has also continued to give back to the NC literary and academic community, teaching classes at Catawba College, serving as this year’s President of the NC Poetry Society, serving as past President of the NC Writers’ Network and the Charlotte Writers’ Club, and providing assistance on a local level as one of last year’s Gilbert-Chappell Distinguished Poets and on Lenoir Rhyne’s Visiting Writers Series Advisory Committee.

On September 14, Abbott will join Bolton, NC, poet, Jason Mott, as featured writers at Poetry Hickory. The reading will be held at 6:30 at Taste Full Beans Coffeehouse in downtown Hickory and will be preceded by a meeting of the NC Writers’ Network’s Foothills Region’s Writers’ Night Out at 5:00. All events are free and open to the public. For more information, contact Scott Owens at or 828-234-4266, or visit the website at To give readers a sense of what to expect, here is a poem from Abbott’s New & Selected Poems.

Blood Red of Late October

Blood red of late October in the South,
and from the cemetery to the college campus
on the hill, the leaves bathe my eyes. I
turn each corner into dazzling surprise.

In my mine’s eye, she walks toward me.
I show her my favorite tree. I pluck three
leaves for her and watch as she carries
them away. This is new found grace,

and in the space where sadness once lay
the small white flower of hope grows.
In the South, October lingers, the gold
sun glances off the trees. November will

come with its cold rain soon enough,
I know. I turn the dazzle inward
and down. It courses through the veins
and lofts me toward the breathless light.

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