Bladen Community College hosts poetry reading of Scotland County native, John Charles McNeill

DUBLIN — Mary Wayne Watson, the great-niece of North Carolina poet John Charles McNeill, will present a reading of his poetry on Thursday, March 31, in the Student Resource Center (Building 7) of the college.

McNeill, (1874-1907), was born on a farm in Scotland County. In 1894, as a 20-year-old, he enrolled in Wake Forest College, where he immediately attracted the attention of Benjamin Sledd, a prominent English teacher. Under Sledd’s encouragement, McNeill’s first printed poem appeared in the December 1894 issue of the Wake Forest Student, a campus journal of which he later became editor.

Although McNeill opened a law office after graduation, his innate desire to write poetry drove him to work as a writer for the Observer in Charlotte. In his lifetime, he wrote hundreds of poems, often bringing joy to life’s sad moments. His first book, “Songs Merry and Sad,” earned him The Patterson Cup, presented to him by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1906.

Watson received her Ph.D. from the University of Virginia and her M.A. from UNC-Chapel Hill. Because of the encouragement of friends, she has developed several reading presentations as a part of the Road Scholar program with the North Carolina Humanities Council. For this presentation, Watson will be discussing the setting of McNeill’s poetry and reading select pieces.

Watson is an English teacher and has taught in middle and high school environments across North Carolina and Virginia, at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Va., and at Nash Community College in Rocky Mount. Her teaching areas of expertise include English composition, research writing, American and British literature, and film.

This program is made possible by a grant from the North Carolina Humanities Council, a statewide nonprofit and affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, and Bladen Community College. The event is free and open to the public. For more information about the BCC Writers Series, contact Joyce Bahhouth at 910-879-5540.
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