Chappell will soon enroll at Duke and study under writing professor William Blackburn, whose students over the years also include Reynolds Price, William Styron, Josephine Humphreys and Anne Tyler.
Later, as a professor at UNC-Greensboro and the state’s poet laureate, Chappell recalls Thomas’ reading: “They poured him on stage over at Page Auditorium. And you thought, ‘Oh geez. This is not going to happen.’ And he gave a magnificent reading. An impossible reading. And then they poured him off stage.”