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ASU Lecturer Henion Awarded $10,000 N.C. Arts Council Fellowship To Support First Book To Be Published

Sept. 24, 2013. Leigh Ann Henion, a lecturer in Appalachian State University’s Department of English and Watauga Global Community’s Writing in the Field program, has received a $10,000 N.C. Arts Council Fellowship to support work on her first book to be published by The Penguin Press. 

“It’s a thrill to be honored at this level, in such a substantial way,” Henion said.


In her book, Henion writes about reclaiming her sense of wonder through the science and mythology that attempt to explain some of the world’s most incredible natural phenomena.

Her agent wrote that the book, “is a transformative narrative that captures, in a wholly original way, the heartbreaking beauty of nature and the always-searching, ever-evolving power of storytelling.”

In it, Henion writes about the migration site of the monarch butterflies in central Mexico, Sweden’s aurora borealis, Tanzania’s wildebeest migration, and other phenomena.

“In these pages you’ll meet an odd-job-holding adventurer whose life revolves around seeing solar eclipses, two unlikely modern-day shamans, full casts of scientists, and more than a few spiritual seekers,” the agent wrote. “Each of them, in their own way, serves to remind us that wonder isn’t about finding answers. It’s about becoming more comfortable with questions.”

Henion’s essays and articles have been published in The Washington Post, Oxford American, and Smithsonian, among others. Her work has three times been cited as notable in The Best American Travel Writing series.

Since 1980, the North Carolina Arts Council has provided fellowship awards to artists who have been selected through a rigorous panel screening process. The arts council awards these direct grants to support artists in the development and creation of art because their work is essential to the cultural heritage and creative vitality of the state.

The fellowship allows recipients to set aside time to work, to purchase supplies and equipment or to pursue other artistic goals.

Fellowships recognize the contribution artists make to the quality of life in North Carolina. From the beginning of the program, the arts council board recognized the importance of artists to the state’s artistic and cultural growth.

The program was conceived both to recognize outstanding artists for their accomplishments and to help them produce new work by giving them the time and resources to develop their ideas. 

Music, literature and theater fellowships are offered every other year, alternating with film/video and visual art fellowships.