“I grew up in the North,” Marjorie says, “but I got here as fast as I could.”
Marjorie Hudson was born in a small town in Illinois and raised in Washington, D.C., where she graduated from American University with a degree in Journalism and Women’s Studies. After serving as features editor of National Parks Magazine, she moved to rural North Carolina, working as a freelance writer with a column interviewing nature photographers and publishing articles in Garden & Gun, American Land Forum, Wildlife in North Carolina, Our State Magazine, and North Carolina Literary Review. As copyediting chief for Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, she encountered the work of contemporary Southern writers such as Jill McCorkle, Kaye Gibbons, and Clyde Edgerton for the first time. Inspired, she turned her hand to fiction writing, and her first story won a statewide award judged by Shannon Ravenel. She earned an MFA from Warren Wilson College. She lives with her husband, Sam, and feisty small terrier DJ, on a century farm in North Carolina, where she mentors writers and reads poetry to trees.
More about Marjorie’s writing …
Marjorie Hudson’s writing these days explores the lesser known parts of Southern history and expresses a love of its people, its complexities, its transcendent places. Her debut novel, Indigo Field, forthcoming from Regal House Publishing in March 2023, digs into the hidden history of an abandoned field as well as the deepest secrets of its Black, white, and Indigenous neighbors. Her story collection Accidental Birds of the Carolinas was a PEN/Hemingway honorable mention, a Novello Literary Award Finalist, and Perpetual Folly’s Best Story Collection of the Year, and her creative travelogue/history Searching for Virginia Dare has become a favorite teaching tool in creative nonfiction writing programs from East Carolina University to the University of Alaska-Anchorage. She writes essays and articles on subjects ranging from early English explorers to traditional music, from Monarch butterflies to dogs who saved her life, from Sufi dancing to the aftermath of 9/ll. Her work has been anthologized in Idol Talk: Women Writers on the Teenage Infatuations that Changed Their Lives, ed. Elizabeth Searle and Tamra Wilson; Making Notes: Music of the Carolinas, ed. Ann Wicker; What Doesn’t Kill You, ed. Murray Dunlap; Topograph (Novello); and Birthed From Scorched Hearts: Women Respond to War, ed., MariJo Moore. She has collaborated with visual artists on installations, gallery shows, and many other projects.
Winner of fellowships from the Hemingway Foundation, Hedgebrook Retreat for Women Writers, Headlands Center for the Arts, Ucross Foundation, and the North Carolina Arts Council, Marjorie is also recipient of many awards and grants, including the Blumenthal Award, the Fiction Syndicate Prize, and Sarah Belk Gambrell Artist-Educator of the Year. Marjorie balances writing with community outreach, public speaking, and teaching.
A popular speaker for years with the North Carolina Humanities Council Road Scholar Program, Marjorie traveled the state inviting discussion on topics ranging from Virginia Dare to George Moses Horton, the first Black man to publish a book in the South. She has been a keynote speaker at Methodist College’s Literary Festival and a featured presenter at the Carolina Mountains Literary Festival, Kathryn Milam’s famous Readers On Roslyn Book Club for Women, and, in a musical reading with writer/muscian Susan Ketchin, at the North Carolina Literary Festival, as well as many other festivals and events.
More about Marjorie’s work in COMMUNITY …
Writers, I feel, should not try to live in isolation, although the work can require quiet focus for days and weeks on end. Rather, I have found that working to make a difference in my community is one of the richest sources of energy in my life. Maybe this work is a distraction; maybe it’s why it takes me so long to write a book, but it seems absolutely necessary to my process as a writer …—Marjorie Hudson
Marjorie has been volunteering for community groups since college in DC, when she mentored runaway girls, manned the midnight shift on the student hotline, and worked for American Youth Hostels, helping with outdoor programs. In North Carolina, she joined the board of the local river conservation group, the Haw River Assembly, and was an instigator and volunteer crew for the organization’s ambitious Haw River Festival, an annual event now for more than 30 years.
She has since served on the board of her local Arts Council, creating a coffeehouse program that featured artists, writers, and musicians and helping to promote the annual Studio Tour. In 2000 she founded the George Moses Horton Project to inspire and educate children and adults about this enslaved man who sold his poems to buy his freedom. She has led efforts to recognize the poet statewide and locally, to place a historic marker, and to change the name of a historically segregated middle school to honor him.
Marjorie has served as a mentor and tutor to middle and high school students, and created and found funding for a role as Writer in Residence of the Siler City Arts Incubator, a community-building program offering free writing workshops to adults and Hispanic high schoolers, generating interviews and photo portraits of downtown town artists and businesspeople, and culminating in a reading, gallery show, and reception featuring student work, townspeople’s oral histories, and everyone’s favorite foods. “I didn’t know poetry could be so fun,” one participant said.
As president of her local Friends of the Library, and in collaboration with her local indie bookstore, McIntyre’s Books, Marjorie created two elaborate, year-long Community Reads, featuring Sue Monk Kidd’s The Secret Life of Bees and then Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner. Discussion groups, local art challenges, scholar visits, and feasting were features of the events, along with a culminating author visit in the enormous barn venue near the bookstore. “When Khaled came,” she says, “it was like Woodstock. SRO with at least one 9-months-pregnant lady lying on the floor. I think we had 800 in attendance. Don’t tell the fire marshal!” She documented the experience in her essay “Going to Afghanistan.”
More recently, Marjorie has focused on serving writers directly, helping start a Creative Writing Certificate Program at her local community college, where she created curriculum and served as faculty. She staffed programs and conferences for the North Carolina Writers Network, and has served as chair of the NC Writers Conference, a group that brings together leading writers in the state, where she focuses on scouting new members and encouraging them to take leadership roles.
Marjorie was recently interviewed about her writing and her activism by her local arts council.
More about Marjorie’s work as a TEACHER …
There’s an idea that writers must work absolutely alone. Although the work often requires extended solitude, every writer needs a community who can support and critique her work. Hemingway had his writing group—Gertrude Stein and Co. You need one too. That’s what Kitchen Table Writers are for …—Marjorie Hudson
In 2009, Marjorie needed a job. She turned to a friend in her yoga class and said, “Al, would you be interested in coming to a writing workshop?” Al surprised her by saying, “Why yes, Marjorie, I would.” Thus began the Kitchen Table Writers Workshops, set in artist galleries, cafes, bookstores, and finally in a bed and breakfast owned by one of her former students – now a published mystery writer.
Kitchen Table Writers Workshops, now on Zoom, provide rigorous but nurturing feedback on manuscripts, study craft, write new material, learn about form. Many of the participants are MFA grads, who have told her, “I never got anything this useful and practical in my MFA program.”
Kitchen Table Writers are publishing! Hudson’s yoga pal Al wrote a memoir of his life as a professional Santa. Other writers have published short stories, personal essays, and novels.
“A lot of what writers need is encouragement, insight, problem-solving, and someone who really “sees” both you and what you’re up to and reflects it back with respect and care,” Marjorie says. “That’s what I know I needed, and didn’t get much of when I was starting out. I became resourceful. Now I get to share what I’ve learned. It’s deeply satisfying.”
Jocelyn Nicole Johnston, a summer workshop participant whom Hudson encouraged, made it to the NYT best-seller list with her story collection, My Montecello.