If you’re up for a road trip this weekend, think Weymouth Center in Southern Pines at 2 p.m. That’s when three of our state’s luminaries will be inducted into the North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame.
They are novelist Clyde Edgerton of Wilmington, mystery writer Margaret Maron of Johnston County, and Pulitzer-winning poet and biographer Carl Sandburg, who lived out his years at Connemara, the goat farm his wife Lillian established in 1945, near Flat Rock.
Need we even remind you that Edgerton has written one of the funniest novels ever published – “Raney” – along with several others, which take a lovingly satirical look at the citizens of our Carolina backwoods.
And Maron, one of the state’s most prolific writers, has entertained us for years with the popular (Judge) Deborah Knott series, as well as the Sigrid Harald Series, starring a loner lieutenant in the NYPD.
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But, wait. Sandburg? Yes, he died in 1967 at age 89 at Connemara – since 1968, the Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site. Is this tie enough to award him one of our state’s highest literary honors?
You bet it is. Sandburg did not idle away his 20 years here. He donned his green visor and, his old Remmington atop an upended apple crate, he wrote: “Always the Young Stranger,” an autobiography; and his only novel, “Remembrance Rock.” It was here, too, he condensed into one volume his four-volume biography of Abraham Lincoln.
Sandburg won three Pulitzers while living at Connemara – one for his Lincoln biography and two for his poetry – as well as the American Academy of Arts and Letters gold medal for history; the International United Poets Laureate award as the Honorary Poet Laureate of the U.S.; the Presidential Medal of Freedom; and honors from the NAACP for his coverage of the 1919 Chicago race riots and for his “life-long struggle to extend the frontiers of social justice.”
Life was sweet at Connemara. Friends visited, including Harry Golden. Sandburg’s devoted wife left his lunch each day outside his study door. He strummed his guitar, and he was surrounded by all he loved – Lillian, his two daughters and two granddaughters; a flock of sturdy goats; and the sweet breezes of the Blue Ridge mountains.