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About the Festival

In 1993, Central Piedmont Community College launched its Spring Literary Festival. Founded by poet and long-time English faculty member Irene Blair Honeycutt, the festival has celebrated local and regional talent and brought to CPCC renowned and prize-winning writers, including Richard Blanco, Yusef Komunyakaa, Li-Young Lee, Natasha Trethewey, and Ron Rash. This tradition continues.
In 2006, the Spring Literary Festival was renamed Sensoria. This reflected its expansion outward from literature into the wide variety of arts and cultural events now offered, celebrating CPCC’s own creative curriculum programs and endeavors.
Daytime events are scheduled to correspond with classes, and faculty bring entire classes for once-in-a-lifetime engagement with leaders in the arts. Students are encouraged to attend both day and night events, and, with the exceptions of some ticketed performances, most events are free and open to the public.
Each year, more than 15,000 students and community members 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 creative 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.

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.

View the list of previous winners here.

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.  

 View the list of previous winners here.

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.


View past cover artists here.