Now, this Richmond Senior High Class of 2004 graduate is hoping to share the Richmond County experience with a larger audience, but she needs help from the people who’ve lived it.
After accepting a position on this year’s staff of The Lyricist, a literary volume the school publishes annually, she began to think about the potential entries from the folk of her home.
The magazine also features original works of visual art for its edition.
“I immediately thought to contact our newspaper, because I truly believe that our county offers a deep, and untapped, well of talent and inspiration,” Collins said.
“The Lyricist not only offers an avenue for expression but also a chance to be heard and published,” Collins said. ”The Lyricist is an annual literary publication that has been circulated for 30-plus years. Every year, The Lyricist makes its way through the hands of students, scholars, professionals, alumni, artists, poets and the hearts of avid readers throughout the state and beyond.”
A Richmond County Connection
Collins isn’t the only connection between Richmond County and the Buie’s Creek Baptist college, the current president of Campbell is also one of Richmond County’s own.
Rockingham native Dr. Jerry Wallace has been a faculty member at the school since 1970, and was named its fourth president in 2003.
“Dr. Wallace ... often uses the term ‘Campbell Proud’ to describe a strong sense of pride founded in simplicity and common roots,” Collins said.
On Campus Growth
Collins is a Trust and Wealth Management major in Campbell’s prestigious program, with a minor in Financial Planning.
She’s also had a burgeoning love of letters awakened within her during her time on campus.
An unofficial campus mascot, Sandy the Dog, passed away, inspiring her first foray into poetry, but she faced the same barriers many face to share her expression. A barrier she hopes Richmond County residents can overcome to submit their work.
“I grew up in Richmond County, and know there are a bunch of very talented people who live there,” Collins said. “But it’s intimidating because, especially with poetry, there is a certain form you have to follow and a lot of times people are scared they might put a comma in the wrong place or misspell a word, I know I am, but you’ve got to overcome that to express yourself and share your ideas and experiences. I think with any art form, you have that, and literature is just another form of art.”
She said submissions for The Lyricist aren’t graded on grammatical content, though the competition is stiff.
“Each year The Lyricist receives 300 to 500 statewide, local and student submissions of poetry, fiction and art,” Collins said. “Just 60 to 80 submissions are published, and the only criterion to be met is quality.”
Understanding the Richmond County experience
An appreciation for the art form of literature isn’t the only thing that’s changed in her moral belief and value system since going off to get an education.
Collins said she has also developed a deeper understanding of the Richmond County experience she wants to share with others. It hinges on the same element the world, proverbially, revolves around: money.
“This might sound weird, coming from a trust major, but when I first got to college I thought capitalism was the devil,” Collins recalled about arriving in Buie’s Creek in the Fall of 2005. “I didn’t want anything to do with Adam Smith or the free market.”
She said the destruction of her father’s, and many others in the county and state, livelihood following the signing of the North American Free Trade Agreement left a bad taste in her mouth, and she mistakenly associated ‘free trade’ with ‘free market.’
“It was a really personal thing with me,” Collins recalled. “We went from him making a good living and being in a nice home, and then we had to downgrade everything. I just thought that anything about economics that had the word ‘free’ in front of it had something to do with what happened to my family.”
These notions were dispelled after intensive reading of the works of such economists as von Mises and Hayek, as well as Smith, known as the father of modern economics.
Her lesson began as a freshman, in Business 101.
“Actually, one of the first books every business major at Campbell is assigned to read is Ayn Rand’s ‘Atlas Shrugged,’” Collins said. “For some, it may be a little bit dry, not that it’s a bad story or anything but the philosophy of it can seem like it’s a little bit over your head. For a business major, it really explains a lot of things.”
The book is one of the best selling pieces of American literature, and depicts a collision course between individualism and production and collectivism and bureaucracy.
It launched Collins into her new understanding of the country’s economic plight, and she now believes the most essential foundation of this nation’s existence is property rights.
She defines property rights as “the right to keep and enjoy the fruits of your labor.”
She said someone who works hard, becomes successful and is fortunate enough to amass $1 to $2 million in assets can expect to have more than half their wealth confiscated before it is passed on to the next generation through estate and death taxes and other fees and assessments, depending on what jurisdiction they live and die in.
“That is just totally unfair,” she said. “I believe you should be able to keep what you earn, and people don’t understand that the wealthy have wealth is because they earned it.
“Sure, there are some beneficiaries, but for the most part people have things because they worked for it.”
Working for the things one has is not a concept that is foreign to Collins.
Her father worked decades in the textile mills, then had to start all over again when free trade sent the jobs overseas. She recalled one winter morning when he set off on foot to Richmond Yarns in Ellerbe from their home in Hamlet because his truck wouldn’t start.
“I think he got a ride in Rockingham because somebody knew him and picked him up,” Collins recalled. “But that story just tells you the commitment he had to hard work. I always respected that, and hope I can be the same way.”
Of course, she said she and many of her classmates are concerned about the news this week that financial institutions that acquiesce to accept government funds would have their executives pay cut.
After all, they got into their field to earn a venture capitalist salary, not a civil servant’s.
“I’m really anxious about that, and so is everyone else in my program,” Collins said. “But I’m doing what I love, and I just hope it will all work out.”
A Richmond County Issue
An ulterior motive for choosing to solicit submissions from Richmond County can be found in Collin’s deep concern for literacy in the community.
Her concern was first awakened because one of her family members is a slow reader, and she hopes to do something to help others.
“I know that’s an issue in Richmond County,” she said. “There are a lot of people there who, if they can read, they can’t read very much.”
She said she hopes to work in the community to help be a part of the solution.
“When I get back home, I’m committed to volunteering with the literacy council, or working with youth to help them learn to read,” Collins said. “That’s something I’m definitely going to do.”
Art submissions must be e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or dropped off at the school’s Layton Annex.
Literary submissions must be either e-mailed to email@example.com, or mailed to English Department, Campbell University, Buie’s Creek, N.C. 27506.
The original deadline for submissions was set for November 13, however Collins said that date has been moved back and entries will be accepted at least through December.
n Staff Writer Philip D. Brown can be reached at (910) 997-3111 ext. 32, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.