Taylor Young, a freshman Watauga Residential College (WRC) student from Raleigh, was recently informed that her short fiction piece, titled “Remembrance,” was selected for an Honorable Mention in the North Carolina Writers Network’s (NCWN) annual Jacobs/Jones African-American Literary Prize competition.
The Jacobs/Jones African-American Literary Prize honors Harriet Jacobs and Thomas Jones, two pioneering African-American writers from North Carolina, and seeks to convey the rich and varied existence of Black North Carolinians. The contest, sponsored by the NCWN, is administered by the Creative Writing Program at UNC-Chapel Hill.
The WRC submitted the entry fees for five of its students, including Young to enter NCWN competitions. She is a music therapy major in the Hayes School of Music. Young’s piece, “Remembrance,” is a short story told from the point of view of a woman reminiscing on fond memories of food, prayer and Black girlhood at her beloved Nana's house in Smithfield, N.C. “It was my desire to encapsulate the richness of familial relationships and the Black religious experience indigenous to the rural south. I crafted this story out of my own memories, including the mannerisms and personalities of my family members who I love dearly. I had a great time writing it,” explained Young.
Commenting on receiving The Jacobs/Jones African-American Literary Prize, Young said “This honor means more than I could express in words. I have always wanted to be a writer, but the reality is -- this is the first short story that I have ever written. Up until very recently I only wrote poetry. I am deeply humbled that someone read my work and saw value in it. This honor only encourages me to keep studying and writing. The sky's the limit!”
Young’s dream to become a writer was additionally supported by Joseph Bathanti, professor of English and the university's McFarlane Family Distinguished Professor in Interdisciplinary Education. She described that Bathanti has had the most positive influence on her both as a writer and person during her short time at Appalachian State University. Before participating in Bathanti’s freshman writing course, Young had lost much of her passion for writing and reading. Throughout the course, she received priceless feedback and edits on her writing.
“He helped me understand that my voice and story are valuable. I actually wrote ‘Remembrance’ in his class. Professor Bathanti believes in, and sincerely cares about, each and every one of his students, including me. He also oversees the Watauga Writers Workshop, where I gained a lot of courage sharing my work in front of my peers,” said Young.
Bathanti noted “What Taylor has accomplished is a feat. Not only did her story surface from an enormous pool, but also from a pool of established, well-published writers who have been at it for years. I want to underscore again how amazing Taylor’s accomplishment is, but I am also not surprised. She is a gifted creative writer.”
Young’s favorite part about being a WRC student is the tight-knit community. “Everyone in the college is incredibly kind and each of us brings something unique to the table whether it is our interests or our lived experience. The Watauga faculty really encourages us to bring our ‘whole selves’ to class and this has only encouraged me to explore myself and my relationship to the world more,” said Young. “I want to express my gratitude to Appalachian for being a place where I can grow as a person and a student. I am truly proud to call myself a Mountaineer.”
About the Department of English
The Department of English at Appalachian State University is committed to outstanding work in the classroom, the support and mentorship of students, and a dynamic engagement with culture, history, language, theory and literature. The department offers master’s degrees in English and rhetoric and composition, as well as undergraduate degrees in literary studies, film studies, creative writing, professional writing and English education. Learn more at https://english.appstate.edu.
About the Hayes School of Music
The Hayes School of Music prepares young musicians for professional lives as performers, composers, music educators, music therapists, conductors and music industry professionals, ensuring the next generation of musical leadership for the state, region and nation. Noted for quality instruction by national and internationally recognized faculty musicians, the school offers four undergraduate degree programs and three graduate-level programs. Learn more at https://music.appstate.edu.
About the North Carolina Writers' Network
The North Carolina Writers' Network connects, promotes and serves the writers of this state. We provide education in the craft and business of writing, opportunities for recognition and critique of literary work, resources for writers at all stages of development, support for and advocacy of the literary heritage of North Carolina, and a community for those who write. The North Carolina Writers’ Network believes that writing is necessary both for self-expression and a healthy community, that well-written words can connect people across time and distance and that the deeply satisfying experiences of writing and reading should be available to everyone.
About the Watauga Residential College
The Watauga Residential College is a specialized academic program where classes are discussion-based seminars that allow students to pursue topics of interest to them within the context of the class. This program provides an unusual opportunity for students to become engaged in learning at a deep level through class discussions and research projects. Watauga classes are interdisciplinary and this approach to learning requires students to integrate knowledge from a variety of disciplines to gain a complete perspective on a topic. Learn more at https://watauga.appstate.edu.
By Sophia Woodall
March 11, 2021