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Photo by Jan G. Hensley

Shelby Stephenson grew up on a small farm near Benson, in the Coastal Plain of North Carolina. “Most of my poems come out of that background,” he says, “where memory and imagination play on one another. I have written many poems about the mules we worked until I was in the seventh grade and, after that–the tractor. My early teachers were the thirty-five foxhounds my father hunted. The trees and streams, fields, the world of my childhood–all that folklore–those are my subjects.”

After leaving the farm for college, he graduated from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill (B.A. 1960) where he also studied law, University of Pittsburgh (M.A. 1967), University of Wisconsin-Madison (Ph.D. 1974), and worked as a radio and television announcer, salesman, right-of-way agent, and farmer. He was professor of English and editor of Pembroke Magazine until his retirement in 2010. The state of North Carolina presented him with the 2001 North Carolina Award in Literature. And he has received the Bellday Poetry Prize, the Oscar Arnold Young Award, the Zoe Kincaid-Brockman Award, the Brockman-Campbell Award, the Bright Hill Press Chapbook Prize, and the Playwright's Fund of North Carolina Chapbook Prize.

In addition to a poetic documentary: Plankhouse (with photographs by Roger Manley), he has published Middle Creek Poems, Carolina Shout!, Finch’s Mash, The Persimmon Tree Carol, Poor People, Greatest Hits, Fiddledeedee, Possum, Playing Dead, Play My Music Anyhow, and Family Matters: Homage to July, the Slave Girl.

With his wife Linda, Shelby has made four musical CDs

Hank Williams Tribute, Stephenson Brothers & Linda Sing the Old Songs, When Country Was Country, and Shelby & Linda Stephenson Sing Don Gibson.

Photo by Jan G. Hensley

The Family (1942)

Shelby is the youngest, with siblings Paul, Marshall, and Rose, and parents Maytle and Paul Stephenson.

This family photo from 1942 is featured on the cover of Fiddledeedee, which is a long lyric poem about Shelby's growing up on a farm in rural North Carolina.


Shelby Stephenson / 985 Sanders Road / Benson NC 27504 / shelbystephenson@mindspring.com
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