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Carden receives prestigious state award

art cardenSylva native and renowned Southern Appalachian storyteller Gary Carden received the North Carolina Award for Literature, the state’s highest honor, on Oct. 30 at a ceremony in the N.C. Museum of History in Raleigh.

He personally received the honor from Gov. Bev Perdue for his body of work, which includes poetry, short stories and plays about the mystical people and places around Western North Carolina.

“Well, I have been to Raleigh and was wined and dined by the governor,” he said in his usual humor. “I have an award hanging around my neck that weighs about three pounds and a plaque that extols my talents.”

According to Carden, his latest creation, the play “Outlander” about famed Appalachian chronicler Horace Kephart, was a catalyst for the achievement, but the real accolades come from decades of artist pursuits involving pen and paper.

“This is not for ‘Outlander’,” he adamantly said. “This is a lifetime achievement award.”

The play, which has stirred controversy and fluid conversation among different Kephart camps, was featured in Sept. 12 issue of The Smoky Mountain News — one of the first media outlets to announce his receiving the North Carolina Award.

He said there are plans in the works for Sylva to have a day in his honor this month. Until then, you can find him rocking slowly on his porch, with his trusty dog Jack by his side. A true icon of Southern Appalachia lore and culture, Carden looks back on his work with pride, but with one eye always on the next project, next move into whatever literary projects he’ll surely dip his pen into.

Other 2012 honorees included Dr. B. Jayant Baliga for science, Lou Donaldson and Thomas Sayre for fine arts, and Janice Faulkner and Ambassador Bonnie McElveen-Hunter for public service.

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