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Jaki Shelton Green Named North Carolina's First African American Poet Laureate

Jaki Shelton Green Named North Carolina's First African American Poet Laureate


Photo: Sandra Davidson

North Carolina Governor, Roy Cooper, recently selected poet Jaki Shelton Green to serve as the state’s poet laureate. With this selection, Green becomes the first African American and only the third woman to serve as the state’s official ambassador for poetry and spoken word. 

Green is a North Carolina native and has been active in the North Carolina literary and teaching communities for over 40 years. She has authored eight books of poetry, co-edited two poetry anthologies, and also written a stage play. She has won numerous awards and honors, including the North Carolina Award for literature in 2003 which is the state’s highest civilian honor for significant contributions to the state in the fine arts. In 2013, Green won the North Carolina Award for Literature and was inducted into the North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame the following year. She also served as the 2016 Lenoir-Rhyne University Writer-in-Residence. 

In addition to her extensive professional literary career, Green also facilitates creative writing classes at public libraries and colleges and serves as a ‘creativity coach’ during various trainings around the United States and overseas. She is also an advocate for the importance of community arts and art-centered programs that serve diverse communities. In addition, Green is the owner of SistaWRITE, a collective that brings women writers together via retreats and travel experiences to foster sisterhood and creative community.

Currently, Green teaches documentary poetry at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. A public installation ceremony for Green is scheduled to take place later this summer in Raleigh, North Carolina. 

Update: Green was officially inducted as North Carolina's first African American Poet Laureate on February 18, 2019.