Supporting the Best Writers

The Truman Capote Literary Trust Scholarship in Creative Writing
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Through a $75,000 endowment, the Truman Capote Literary Trust funds a scholarship at Appalachian State University to support students in its creative writing program. The competitive scholarship, currently valued at almost $2,000, is awarded annually.

Senior John Stone of Sanford won this year's scholarship based on two of his short stories. They were judged in a competition by author Nancy Huddleston Packer, professor emeritus of creative writing at Stanford University.

In her critique of Stone's work, Packer described his writing as "moving and persuasive."

Stone's career goal is to be a poet and novelist. He already has been published in one literary journal, with more pending. Always an avid reader, Stone transferred to Appalachian from Central Carolina Community College in Sanford knowing he would major in English because he heard Appalachian's Department of English was "top notch." He is also pursuing a minor in communication.

"I chose Appalachian because for the money, this is the best education," the 28-year-old said.

"People are so interesting to me. If you find out one thing about a person's life, you can write a thousand stories," Stone says of his writing. "I'd love to write the next great American novel. I also like screenwriting. But, poetry comes most easily for me. Success to me would be having a steady audience for my poetry, and I'd also love to teach at the college level."

Stone describes Appalachian's creative writing faculty as highly supportive. "The faculty here challenge you. If they see you have a gift, they encourage you to pursue it. You couldn't ask for a more supportive faculty."

In addition to the Truman Capote scholarship, Stone received the creative writing program's John Foster West Scholarship in 2006. He is financing his college education by himself, so scholarships and financial aid are vital.

Appalachian's creative writing program offers courses on the writing of poetry, fiction, creative non-fiction, playwriting and screenwriting. While designed for English majors pursuing a bachelor of arts degree, the courses are open to students of any major.

Q & A with John Stone

Why do you write?
"People are so interesting to me - if you find out one thing about a person's life you can write a thousand stories. I'd love to write the next great American novel. I also like screenwriting. But poetry comes most easily for me. Success to me would be having a steady audience for my poetry, and I'd also love to teach at the college level."
What sustains your desire to write professionally?
"It's a scary thing to tell your parents you want to be a writer. But my parents were very supportive. My dad is now my biggest fan. I tell my fellow students, pursue your passion. If you're good at math, major in math. If you want to be a poet, study poetry."
What are your professors like?
"The faculty here at Appalachian are very supportive. They challenge you. If they see you have a gift, they encourage you to pursue it."

Works

Are We Live? We Are Live!

When JFK ate a bullet
in Dallas, my father
watched the news, conspicuous
in jeans stained green
at the knees,
called in from a football game
to bear witness.
Jackie O looked like an angel,
he said,
as she tried to hold
her husband's brains
Inside his shattered
tea-cup skull.
Today,
my father shakes his head, but
laughs later,
showing me pictures in his scrapbook,
of Vietnamese nightclub singers.
They're all dressed like Elvis,
short and Asian, and
the strippers in the bars of Saigon,
their eyes are always
dull, like dogs
under the sun,
and here he is on a Hum-Vee
shirtless, smiling,
holding a rifle.

II

When the Challenger exploded,
falling like a comet in a
column of flame over the Atlantic,
I was more concerned with
the book fair at my school, and
my first kiss came hot
and quick
with the destruction of the Berlin Wall.
We had watched
it in our classroom,
excited but unsure why, and later
she pulled me close to her.
We were hidden
away from everyone,
and before our lips met I
could smell her chapstick,
could feel the dampness of sweat
on her lower back as she shook
in my hands.

III

On the streets of Mexico, my sister
Videotaped the children dancing in the mouths
Of the alleyways.
They're dressed in piecemeal clown suits, faces painted
With discarded makeup.
"Oh, how wonderful," she said, clapping,
And she threw them her pocket change,
Never knowing that they will use it to buy glue to sniff.
It dulls the pains of hunger, or so they say.

IV

In 1991, my mother called me
from her hospital bed, and together
we watched the night vision on the news,
the emerald shadows of Baghdad
exploding, exploding
into the surrounding black,
and the war correspondent
cocked his head to the side,
touched one finger
to his ear,
and said,
"Are We Live?"
"We Are Live!"
in a voice so full of disbelief
that I could not comprehend
the scope of it.

V

That night, I rode my bike to the store up the block,
and the man who peeled himself from the shadows outside
was holding a shotgun as black as eternity, and I
froze.
"Mister, what are you doing?"
"Nothing, now get the fuck outta here."
And I did, dropping my paper bags full of candy, my
Stolen cigarettes forgotten,
and I peddled fast, my palms and fingers so sweaty, unsteady,
they keep slipping off the grips of my handlebars.

VI

When the bombs began again,
in 2003,
I was in jail, watching missiles soar
like warbirds on the TV perched above
the Magistrate's empty desk.
I asked to smoke, and was refused.
I reclined on
the cold steel of my bunk,
tracing the graffiti
on the gray concrete walls
with my ringfinger in the dark.
I rolled over,
my back to the bars,
but sleep didn't come,
only the shaky voice
of another anchorman,
pleading,
"Are We Live?"
"We Are Live!"
as if to question
whether God himself
even really had an answer.

For Haley

Hahaha your little girl's
laughsounds like
Sun bleached seashells
Freshly beached and tinkling
Against the sand tides and
One another.
And older, it deepens,
Softens,
Not unpleasant,
Like the wind through
Whitespring dogwood tree blossoms.
Haley, now a young woman
Who can barely
Remember her grandmother's shadow.
You will keep growing,
Swelling, as
All girls do, without answers,
And the men will notice you.
But remember,
I loved you first, young blonde.
I bounced you
On my knee,
A teenage uncle.
And when you leave your house
At night in boycars
I will not see you turn your head back
Smiling, in bloom,
As a woman.
I will think of the bubbles
You blew into the sun.
Up, up, up
Into the dying leaves of summer
In our backyard,
When your hands were
Just so small, and you
Couldn't say my name just right,
And I wanted for
You the world, which was
Slowly being stolen from me.