North Carolina:
Land of Water, Land of Sky

by Bland Simpson

Recipient of the 2021 North Caroliniana Society Book Award

The North Caroliniana Society established the North Caroliniana Book Award in 2003 to recognize annually “the book that captures the essence of North Carolina by contributing powerfully to an understanding of the state.” Authors are eligible regardless of residency. However, neither authors nor publishers submit books; instead, a committee privately surveys all books published during the year and chooses the volume that it believes “makes a positive contribution and appears to have the best chance of standing the test of time as a classic volume of North Caroliniana.”

~ June 2022

On June 9, 2022, the 2021 North Caroliniana Society Book Award was presented to Bland Simpson, author of North Carolina: Land of Water, Land of Sky, during the Annual Membership Meeting and Awards Banquet held in Chapel Hill, NC at the George Watts Hill Alumni Center.  With Society members, and family and friends of Award recipients, we were happy to be able to celebrate together.

More information about the Annual Membership Meeting and Awards Banquet, including award recipients, can be found in Number 63 of the North Caroliniana Society Imprints, titled An Artist’s Perspective by William Mangum.

A video of the day’s festivities will be available on the Society’s website.


North Carolina: Land of Water, Land of Sky (2021) is a personal portrait of the Old North State, begun with a collage of post-it-note story-slivers on an N.C. state highway map in late December 2015 and years later, with scores of captivating images by photographers Ann Cary Simpson, Scott Taylor, and Tom Earnhardt, brought out by UNC Press in October 2021.  Themes of environmental and cultural preservation run throughout the work, from the Albemarle to Ashe County, from Brunswick County to Boone.

(left to right) Tom Earnhardt, Ann Cary Simpson, Scott Taylor and Bland Simpson

Bland Simpson

Bland Simpson is Kenan Distinguished Professor of English & Creative Writing at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and he has also been the Tony Award-Red Clay Ramblers’ piano player since 1986. His books include The Great Dismal, The Mystery of Beautiful Nell Cropsey, and the trio:  Into the Sound Country, The Inner Islands, and Little Rivers & Waterway Tales (all three with photography by Ann Cary Simpson); Ghost Ship of Diamond Shoals, The Coasts of Carolina (photography by Scott Taylor), Two Captains from Carolina, and, in Fall 2021, the collaboration North Carolina:  Land of Water, Land of Sky, with photographs by Ann Cary Simpson, Scott Taylor, and Tom Earnhardt.  His theatrical collaborations include Diamond Studs, Hot Grog, Life on the Mississippi, King Mackerel & The Blues Are Running, Cool Spring, Tar Heel Voices, Kudzu and three-time Broadway hit Fool Moon. Simpson’s awards include the North Carolina Award for Fine Arts (2005), the North Caroliniana Society Award (2010), the N.C. Humanities Council’s John Tyler Caldwell Award in the Humanities (2017), and the UNC Chapel Hill Edward Kidder Graham Faculty Service Award (2018). In October 2022, Bland Simpson will be formally inducted into the North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame, Weymouth Center, Southern Pines, NC.