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About the Festival


Sensoria began in 1993 when CPCC launched its original Spring Literary Festival. Founded by Irene Blair Honeycutt, the literary festival has for twenty years both celebrated local and regional talent and brought to CPCC internationally-renowned and prize-winning writers, including Yusef Komunyakaa, Li-Young Lee, Natasha Trethewey, and Ron Rash. This tradition continues. In 2006, the Spring Literary Festival was renamed Sensoria to reflect its expansion outward from literature into the wide variety of arts and cultural events now offered.


Each year, more than 15,000 people attend some of the best presentations in literature, music, visual arts, history, culture (and food!) around the Charlotte region while learning more about CPCC’s outstanding programs. Past participants have included Pulitzer Prize winning photojournalist John H. White, U.S. Poet Laureate Kay Ryan, Author Ron Rash, Joffrey School of Ballet, Carolina Voices, the Jewish Film Festival, Tosco Music Party and many more.


So mark your calendars and make plans to join us this year for one of the more than 80 events we’ve scheduled.


Attend Sensoria and let us heighten your senses during what is becoming one of Charlotte’s finest celebrations of the arts.


Irene Blair Honeycutt Distinguished Lectureship

The Irene Blair Honeycutt Distinguished Lectureship honors Irene Blair Honeycutt, founding director of the Spring Literary Festival at CPCC and a member of the College’s faculty and staff for 37 years. Each year, the award brings a prominent author to the College to deliver a public lecture and to meet with faculty, students and area writers.


Irene Blair Honeycutt Award for Lifetime Achievement in  the Literary Arts

The Irene Blair Honeycutt Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Literary Arts was established in February, 2004. The Advisory Committee for CPCC’s Annual Spring Literary Festival voted to name the award after Irene Honeycutt in recognition of her advocacy of writers and for her service to the Charlotte community and to the region as Founding Director of the Festival. The award recognizes outstanding achievement in the field of literary arts, as well as community involvement in support of writers. The award is presented to a community member who is committed to the artistic life, shares skills and talents, produces exemplary art and has achieved public recognition in the art field.


Previous winners:



Dannye Romine Powell is the author of three collections of poetry from the University of Arkansas Press, two of which have won the Brockman-Campbell Award for the best book of poetry published by a North Carolinian in the preceding year. She is also the author of Parting the Curtains: Interviews with Southern Writers, which collects conversations with Southern writers -- Eudora Welty, William Styron, James Dickey, Pat Conroy, Lee Smith, Walker Percy among them -- about the creative process. For 17 years she served as book review editor of The Charlotte Observer, where she still writes feature stories and an occasional column. She has won fellowships in poetry from the NEA and the NC Arts Council, and her poems have appeared in a number of literary magazines, including The Paris Review, Poetry, The New Republic, Ploughshares, The Georgia Review and The Gettysburg Review.



Donald Mager was the Mott University Professor of English at Johnson C. Smith University from 1998-2004 where he is now Dean of the College of Arts and Letters. As well as a number of scholarly articles, he has published over 200 poems and translations from German, Czech and Russian. His volumes of poetry are: To Track the Wounded One, Glosses, That Which is Owed to Death, Borderings, Good Turns and The Elegance of the Ungraspable, Birth Daybook and Drive Time.  His latest book is Us Four Plus Four, an anthology of translations from eight major Soviet-era Russian poets. 



Anthony S. Abbott is Professor Emeritus of English at Davidson College in Davidson, North Carolina, where he served as Department Chair from 1989 to 1996. His first novel, Leaving Maggie Hope was published in 2003 and received the Novello Literary Award and ForeWord Magazine’s Gold Award for literary fiction. Its sequel, The Three Great Secret Things, was published in 2007.  He is the author of five books of poetry, including the Pulitzer Prize nominated The Girl in the Yellow Raincoat.  His most recent book New & Selected; Poems 1989 – 2009 was published in 2009 by Lorimer Press.  Abbott is past President of the Charlotte Writers’ Club and the North Carolina Writers Network, and a past Chairman of the North Carolina Writers Conference. He currently serves as President of the North Carolina Poetry Society.  He received the Sam Ragan Award for his writing and service to the literary community of North Carolina. 



Frye Gaillard is the author of more than twenty books, including Cradle of Freedom: Alabama and the Movement That Changed America, winner of the 2005 Lillian Smith Award for southern non-fiction. Gaillard's other award-winning books include The Dream Long Deferred: The Landmark Struggle for Desegregation in Charlotte, North Carolina; Watermelon Wine: The Spirit of Country Music; and If I Were a Carpenter: Twenty Years of Habitat for Humanity. During his thirty years as a journalist and writer in Charlotte, Gaillard worked as a staff writer and later southern editor at the Charlotte Observer, an editor at Novello Festival Press, and a columnist at Creative Loafing. He is now writer in residence at the University of South Alabama in Mobile.



Julie Suk is the author of four volumes of poetry, and co-editor of Bear Crossings, an Anthology of North American Poets. Her collection, The Angel of Obsession, was a winner of the University of Arkansas Poetry Competition, and a winner also of the Roanoke-Chowan Award. Suk’s most recent book The Dark Takes Aim, published by Autumn House Press, was awarded The Brockman-Campbell Award, and The Oscar Arnold Young Award. Lie Down With Me, New and Selected Poems  is forthcoming from Autumn House in the Fall of 2011. Suk’s work has appeared in numerous magazines and anthologies, including The Poetry Anthology, 1912-2002.  She is a recipient of the Bess Hokin Prize from Poetry Magazine.


Irene Blair Honeycutt Legacy Award

The Irene Blair Honeycutt Legacy Award was established by CPCC's Literary Festival Advisory Committee to honor a community member who has contributed outstanding service in support of local and regional writers.  


Previous winners:



Jonathan K. Rice is founding editor and publisher of Iodine Poetry Journal, which is in its fourteenth year of publication. Iodine has had the distinction of having work included in Best American Poetry 2006, which was selected and edited by former U.S. Poet Laureate, Billy Collins. In 2002 Jonathan co-edited a chapbook, Celebrating Life, a project funded by Barnes & Noble in celebration of National Poetry Month and in memory of Dorothy Perry Thompson, noted poet and instructor at Winthrop University. He is the author of a chapbook, Shooting Pool With A Cellist (Main Street Rag, 2003) and a full-length collection, Ukulele and Other Poems (Main Street Rag, 2006). His poetry has appeared in numerous publications including Cold Mountain Review, Comstock Review, The Main Street Rag, Pedestal, and Sun Dog: A Southeast Review. He has been a longtime host of poetry readings in Charlotte, NC, where he lives.



Amy Rogers is a founder and the past publisher of Novello Festival Press, which as the only library-sponsored literary press in the nation launched regional writers to a national audience. Books she has written include Hungry for Home: Stories of Food from Across the Carolinas and Red Pepper Fudge and Blue Ribbon Biscuits. Her work was included in the books Cornbread Nation 1: The Best of Southern Food Writing and The North Carolina Century: Tar Heels Who Made a Difference, 1900-2000; and many periodicals, including the literary magazine Oxford American. She received a Creative Artist Fellowship from the Arts & Science Council, and a Southeast Library Association’s President’s Award, given to the person outside the profession who has done the most for libraries.



Mary Kratt’s books of poetry include The Only Thing I Fear Is A Cow and a Drunken Man, On The Steep Side, Small Potatoes, and Valley. Her poems have appeared in Shenandoah, Tar River Poetry, New Virginia Review, Stone Country, New Mexico Humanities Review, Greensboro Review, Nimrod, Yankee, and others. Twice winner of the Blumenthal Writers and Readers Series sponsored by the N.C.  Writers’ Network, she is also a winner of a N.C. Arts Council Fellowship to MacDowell Colony in New Hampshire. She served on the Speakers Bureau of the N.C. Humanities Council, and as an associate editor of the Southern Poetry Review. She has written extensively about Charlotte’s history, and developed walking tours of the city. Her books include New South Women: Twentieth Century Women of Charlotte and Charlotte: Spirit of the New South.



M. Scott Douglass is the founder of Main Street Rag Publishing Company where he serves as the publisher and managing editor. In addition to publishing numerous literary works by others, he has been recognized for his poetry with a nomination for a Pushcart Prize. He is a recipient of an Arts & Science Council Emerging Artist Grant. His books include Auditioning for Heaven: Poetry, Steel Womb Revisited and Hard to Love. His work has appeared in The Asheville Poetry Review, Iodine Poetry Journal, Slipstream, Black Bear Review, Southern Poetry Review, The Pedestal Magazine and other publications. He has taught graphic arts and graphic design at Central Piedmont Community College. His design work has earned him two PICA Awards and was nominated for an Eric Hoffer Award.



A.A. Jillani came to Charlotte from Karachi, Pakistan, to attend UNC Charlotte, where he was editor of the 49er Times, the college newspaper that won numerous national awards during his editorship. For several years, he was editor of The Mecklenburg Times, a legal and business newspaper. He founded and served as editor of Charlotte Poetry Review/Sandstone Publishing, during which time he worked with some of the best poets and writers in N.C., published chapbooks and full-length manuscripts, and organized a series of poetry readings to enhance the literary scene in Charlotte. His poetry had appeared in many publications and collections, including Main Street Rag, and the literary anthology No Hiding Place: Uncovering the Legacy of Charlotte-Area Writers.


CPCC Sensoria Outstanding Service Award

The CPCC Sensoria Outstanding Service Award is given to a faculty or staff member who has exhibited untiring service to Sensoria.

Previous winners:


2014 – Kenn Compton

Kenn Compton is the program chair and an instructor in the Advertising + Graphic Design Applied Technologies Division. Compton began teaching at CPCC in 2002.

During his 30-plus year career as a graphic designer, Compton has worked for some of the most well known creative groups in this city, including Duke Energy, where he worked his way up to the much-envied role of “International Logo Cop.”  He later became the chair of CPCC's Advertising + Graphic Design program where he works with the college’s passionate faculty and inspired students to build the best design education experience.


2013 – George Cochran

George Cochran is a part-time instructor in the CPCC Art, Photography and Videography Department.

Cochran has made commercials and created advertisements for Jell-O, Miller Brewing Company, PepsiCo and Nabisco. After decades in the industry, he decided he wanted to do more, and moved from New York to Charlotte with his wife. He decided to teach and looked around for schools that would allow him to build something from scratch. He eventually found a home at CPCC, where he created  “Film People,” an annual event that discusses the film industry and how aspiring professionals can break into this competitive field. He brings workers who’ve served on films such as “Forrest Gump” to speak to his students and the public. All of the events are free.


Meet the Cover Artist

2016 – Charles Williams

The story of our Sensoria Visual Arts headliner and cover artist, Charles Williams, is fraught with challenge, beauty, and triumph— a potent illustration of success and tenacity in the face of life’s myriad challenges.

Growing up as a young African American male in rural Georgetown, SC, Charles suffered three near fatal drowning accidents, as part and parcel of life near the sea.   These traumatic experiences not only shaped his aquaphobia, but highlighted deeply-felt racial stereotypes throughout his adult life.   Rather than shy away from the subject matter which nearly killed him, Williams has dedicated his life’s work to tackling the nature of fear itself,  breaking down barriers of regionalist racial stereotypes in his wake.

Charles knew from a tender age he wished to dedicate his life to art.  With the encouragement and mentorship of his high school art teacher, he approached local businesses to collect his work, thus amassing enough support through this entrepreneurial endeavor to attend the prestigious Savannah College of Art and Design.  Since then, the world has taken notice of his formidable talent.  Charles was awarded a residency fellowship at the McColl Center for Arts + Innovation, and a full-ride scholarship to UNC Greensboro, where he is currently pursuing his M.F.A.  His contemporary landscapes have been exhibited in group and solo exhibitions in galleries in New York, Vermont, California, Georgia, South Carolina, most recently reviewed in D.C. by The Washington Post.

In a series of dark oceanscapes for his Sensoria 2016 exhibition, Continnum, Williams employs the grandiose architecture of landscape painting— a tradition historically given over to privileged white males— to effectively confront his deep fears of the sea, and the psychological barriers experienced by black youth.   As a greater articulation of the nature of fear itself, Continuum is a metaphor for life’s turbulent challenges, and how to face fear with buoyancy and grace.


2015 – Chris Sirico

Chris Sirico, from Niceville, Fla., learned to draw during a workshop when he was 16. Recognizing he had an innate sense of all things visual, he taught himself Photoshop and got a BA in Communications - Advertising from Lee University in Tennessee. He later realized that he didn’t like the advertising field and decided to explore his creativity in CPCC’s non-degree classes, such as Figure Drawing, Painting 2, Beginning Guitar and Fundamentals of Music.

There, he learned to appreciate work that is figurative but loose, and employs an economy of means. As a result, he likes to work in a direct, graphic style and bring a sense of his subject to viewers while letting its individual marks stand front and center. In addition, he’s interested in the cultural aspects of signage, typography and illustration. In fact, he draws much inspiration from Henri Toulouse Lautrec's Moulin Rouge posters, and is in love with the brushwork of painters like Rembrandt and John Singer Sargent.

In addition to these artistic greats, Sirico admires Hokusai, the Japanese master who created the iconic Great Wave and other ingenious woodblock prints and drawings. And although Andy Warhol seems to be a polarizing figure in art to many, Sirico admires him for his use of process, color and cultural commentary, stating, “Warhol never drew a distinction between commercial art and fine art. I hope to make art as playful and subversive.”

Sirico spent most of last year serving as a part-time sign and chalk artist for local businesses, especially at 7th St. Market in uptown Charlotte. He strives to roll his many interests into poster design, illustration and journalism and looks forward to seeing his pieces featured in future student shows and events. To learn more, visit .



2014 – Nancy Nieves

Nieves has devoted her life to her work, studying the Masters, the Impressionists, the Post Impressionists, the Cubists, the Surrealists and the Abstract Expressionists. So many artists and art movements have made her the artist she is today.

Her paintings are personal, ranging from small (11" x 14") to oversize (109" x 75"). They are bold, and filled with energy and color. She creates movement through her many compositions. The paintings are painted on stretched canvas with acrylics

After receiving her B.F.A. from Parsons, she attended Hunter College, and received a Master of Fine Arts degree in 1985. It was at Hunter that she was able to study with Alice Aycock, Susan Peterson, John Mason and Rosalind Krauss. Their guidance and inspiration still informs her work to this day.

Today, Nieves lives in one of Charlotte's suburbs in North Carolina. She finds the location lovely and enjoys its fresh air, mountains, light and people. However, she still misses Manhattan, but the peace and quiet that Charlotte affords helps with creating her landscapes. The city’s central location allows her to visit the museums and galleries in New York, Washington D.C., and Chicago with ease, and she visits them as frequently as possible.


2013 – Isaac Payne

Isaac Payne grew up in Tacoma, Wash. He received his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in painting from the Cleveland Institute of Art in 2003 and his Master of Fine Arts degree in painting and sculpture from The City University of New York at Queens College in 2005. His work primarily consists of drawing and 2D mixed-media on paper. The drawings explore themes of our relationship to architecture and our estrangement from nature.

Isaac currently lives in Charlotte, N.C., and teaches art at Wingate University. His honors include the 2002 John Paul Wrobbel Painting Prize, the 2001 Mary Seymour Brooks Scholarship for Painting, and the 2000 Sybil J. Gould Scholarship for Excellence in Drawing and Graphic Arts.