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Top state honor helps promote Literary Review, editor says

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Margaret Bauer speaks with students about the North Carolina Literary Review on ECU campus. Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2017.


By Brian Wudkwych
The Daily Reflector

Monday, October 30, 2017

Twenty years ago Margaret D. Bauer accepted a position editing a fairly-new publication at East Carolina University. Now, she is readying to accept the state’s highest civilian honor from Gov. Roy Cooper.

Bauer, who will be one of six North Carolinians to receive the North Carolina Award on Nov. 9 in Raleigh, is being recognized by the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources for her work on the North Carolina Literary Review, where she has served as the editor for all but its first six years of existence.

At first, the gig came along with a professor position that Bauer accepted in 1997. Originally run by another English professor, Alex Albright, the review was in need of a new editor. Bauer was a natural fit, but the job had, and still has, serious demands.

With no other staffer to pitch in, Bauer has relied on student interns to help where they can.

“I didn’t quite know what I was getting into. I think if I knew what I was getting into I might have been afraid,” Bauer said with a laugh. “I didn’t quite know how much work it would be. But I’m a writer groupie, so it’s given me a chance to meet so many of my favorite writers.”

The review is a cross between a scholarly journal and a literary magazine and showcases writers, photographers and artists with North Carolina ties. In its 200 or so pages are poems, fiction stories, interviews, art and more. All the genres are covered, Bauer said.

Its pages bear the names of writers who contribute without compensation. Some are up-and-coming, others are well-known, but all have played a part in getting Bauer to Raleigh.

“It’s nice to be appreciated,” Bauer said. “I love going to the events and the writers are so kind. Awards are nice to know that they really mean it.”

This award is not the first for Bauer and the Literary Review. The editor has won a handful of national awards, but when the state department came calling on Oct. 3, just hours after she found out she is being presented with the R. Hunt Parker Award for Literary Achievement, something clicked.

“Secretary (Susi H.) Hamilton called me,” Bauer said. “A colleague was in (my office), we were talking and I looked over at the phone and I said, ‘Well that’s the state department, I should probably pick it up.’ I was excited already. It was a good day. I couldn’t have imagined, because I had just won the one, that I would win another one.”

North Carolina is brimming with literary talent, which makes the Literary Review possible, according to Bauer. With numerous submissions for each edition, it is no surprise that organizing so much content takes more than a year.

Throw a rock in the state, she joked, and you will likely hit a writer.

“We have such a rich literary culture and we need to preserve that and we need to showcase it to the rest of the world, to let them see,” Bauer said. “I don’t know that every state could have a literary review year after year after year and fill it.”

Things have changed a lot for the Review in 20 years. New technology has made it easier than ever to send in submissions, and though a softcover version is available for $15, readers have been able to find the articles online since 2012.

“We’ve become more social media presence,” Bauer said. “We’ve developed our website. I call us the ambassadors for North Carolina writers so we do as much as we can.”

The change is, of course, a driving factor behind receiving the North Carolina Award.

But at a ceremony with a star-studded cast, including fellow award recipient Loretta Lynch, Bauer hopes that a little exposure could lead to a lot of progress — namely getting the professor some reinforcements.

“I’m looking forward to it because it’s probably going to be fun,” Bauer said. “I’m so honored. But we can also bring to the state’s attention, especially the governor, this magazine. Did the governor know before my name was brought to his attention of the North Carolina Literary Review? Has he seen it now and is he saying, ‘Wow,’ and will anything come of that?”

In 20 more years, she might know. But for now, Bauer’s work has already paid off.

Contact Brian Wudkwych at bwudkwych@reflector.com or 252-329-9567 and follow @brianwudkwych on Twitter.