GWU Professor Emerita Publishes Second Poetry Book

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Joyce C. Brown Writes About Influence of Music in Her Life

book coverBOILING SPRINGS, N.C.—A new poetry book by Joyce Compton Brown, professor emerita of English at Gardner-Webb University, describes the influence of music in her life. “Singing with Jarred Edges” captures Brown’s thoughts on all types of songs and musicians.

“My own interest in ancient ballads and old-time banjo, as well as more modern singers and songwriters is at the core of this book,” Brown described. “I have been moved by those with high lonesome, gravelly, and exquisitely soaring voices. If the music speaks to my heart, I often write about it. I have for years. This collection reflects my own musical journey from the past to the present.”

Brown taught literature and writing at Gardner-Webb for 39 years before retiring in 2005. “I occasionally taught a course that I called, ‘The Poetry of Contemporary Music,’ focusing on those who are now old-timers, like Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Leonard Cohen and Joni Mitchell,” Brown related. “This new book reflects that range.”

One of her GWU students, Ron Rash, is a best-selling American poet, short story writer and novelist. He praised her new book and said, “‘Singing with Jarred Edges’ is like the best bluegrass music. There is a strong sense of longing and loss, yet what is passing or past is honored through her artistry and makes what otherwise might be forgotten unforgettable. It is an exceptional book of poems.”

The book has also been recommended by Jim Clark, a poet and musicologist who teaches at Barton College in Wilson, N.C., and Lee Smith, a nationally-recognized author whose best-selling novels are set in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Brown’s first poetry book, “Bequest,” was published in 2015 by Finishing Line Press. The poems focus on stories about the women in her family. She has also published numerous essays, reviews and poems and received awards for her work. For several years, she wrote a humor column for the Shelby Star, a newspaper in Cleveland County, N.C. She was the featured poet at the 2016 Doris Betts Literary Festival at Mitchell Community College in Statesville, N.C.

She earned degrees in literature from Appalachian State University in Boone, N.C., and the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg. She’s also studied poetry at Hindman Institute and Appalachian history and literature at Berea College in Kentucky.

Brown and her husband, Les, a GWU professor emeritus who taught biology for 40 years, live in Iredell County, N.C., where she was raised. When not writing poetry, she continues her lifelong interests in painting, music, and the banjo.

Her new book can be pre-ordered for a discounted price from Main Street Rag Publishing Company (

Located in the North Carolina foothills, Gardner-Webb University is a private, Christian, liberal arts university that prepares students to become critical thinkers, effective leaders and compassionate servants in the global community. Emphasizing a strong student-centered experience and rigorous academics, Gardner-Webb ignites learning and service opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students. Ignite your future at