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Perspective | CVCC’s hidden gem: Redhawk Publications

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Hidden in the hallways of Catawba Valley Community College (CVCC) in Hickory is a pioneering initiative called Redhawk Publications, a small press program that supports local, statewide, and national creators in bringing their art to the world.

Redhawk Publications began when CVCC instructors Richard Eller and Robert Canipe wrote and published, “Polio, Pitchforks, and Perseverance: How a NC County Named Catawba Battled Polio and Won,” about the 1944 polio outbreak in Catawba County. They then produced a documentary called “Miracle”, and shortly thereafter, were enlisted to publish an academic workbook for a fellow instructor. CVCC President Garrett Hinshaw requested that the two instructors establish an entrepreneurial boutique small press program to “address the $7 billion creative economy of NC.”

Canipe and Eller began the challenging task of building a program that no community college, to their knowledge, had created before. According to Chief Editor Canipe, “Redhawk Publications is less a publisher, and more a program that assists creators in creating, publishing, and distributing their wares, creating prototypes, finding manufacturing and distribution partners, and instructing clients on promoting and selling their art.”

Since 2017, Redhawk Publications has had the pleasure of publishing over 80 books, including scaffolding texts for CVCC’s faculty and instructors, poetry collections, children’s books, memoirs, fiction, and other engaging publications from local and nationwide clients.

Photo Courtesy of CVCC

While Redhawk Publications is exceedingly proud of all the publications that they have been involved in, the small staff of five full and part-time employees especially enjoy getting authors’ ideas and fashioning them into finished publications.

What makes Redhawk Publications so special?

Redhawk Publications often works with artists and writers who are either based in North Carolina or previously lived in the state. “We take great pride in highlighting our local talent and look forward to showcasing even more,” said Eller, Redhawk’s executive director. “Redhawk Publications allows CVCC to assist the community in preserving stories and history from the area.”

Project Coordinator Patty Thompson said, “Before I started working for Redhawk Publications, I did my research. I wanted to know what the other community college publishing presses were doing in the state. I couldn’t find another community college in North Carolina with a small press. I then researched community colleges across the country, and again, I could not find another community college with a publishing press. That’s not to say they don’t exist. It just shows you how unique we are.”

Canipe added, “To Patty’s point, at one time there were some community colleges in the state that had small publishing presses, but the model at the time required keeping an inventory of books, which is not practical or financially feasible. Those community colleges that got stuck warehousing boxes of books got out of the publishing business. We started Redhawk Publications with a newer, more efficient model using the print-on-demand (POD) model, meaning we don’t have a minimum book order that requires warehousing. We can literally print as many copies the author wants, which keeps costs down.”

Their books are beginning to be recognized on a national level. A release from this summer, “Prosperity Gospel,” has been nominated for a Harriet Beecher Stowe Prize. Two poetry collections have been nominated for the prestigious National Book Critics Circle Award. Eller has authored several history books with Redhawk Publications and recently won the “2021 North Carolina Society of Historians.”

“What this team has done with our small innovative operation in such a short period of time is extraordinary,” Hinshaw said. “I am constantly receiving praise from community members about our publishing and creative solutions division from not only our local community, but from folks across the state. We are gaining a distinguished reputation that we should all be very proud of in Red Hawk Nation and within our community.”

What type of manuscripts does Redhawk Publications look for?

Redhawk Publications is open to publishing titles that deal with art, education, and instruction. Their number one priority is instructional materials such as texts, workbooks, and study guides. But clearly, they publish poetry collections, community history projects, photography, fiction, memoirs.

In fact, as a state-entity nonprofit, Redhawk Publications has been eligible for grants to help bring books to market.

“We have created game prototypes, student anthologies, cards, club pamphlets, special photographic processes, etc., and are looking to dip our hands into new things daily,” Canipe said. “We can also help clients spend their own grant responsibly and realize the greatest benefit for the money.”

Check out Redhawk Publications’ submission guidelines at their website for information on how to submit a manuscript. You can email Thompson at for further details.

Aurora King

Aurora King is a Lenoir-Rhyne University graduate with a creative writing and poetry background. A Jonesville, NC native, King is the associate editor of Redhawk Publications.