Nominations open for North Carolina’s next Poet Laureate

Published 1:49 pm Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Nominations for the state’s next poet laureate, the ambassador of North Carolina literature, will be accepted from now through Friday, Dec. 8 online at

The public is invited to nominate any North Carolina poet, or themselves, if they feel they are best suited for the position. Only current North Carolina residents are eligible to be nominated. Judging will be based on the following criteria:

• A North Carolinian with deep connections to the cultural life of the state;

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• Literary excellence of the poet’s work;

• Influence on other writers, and appreciation of literature in its diversity throughout the   state;

• Ability and willingness to conduct the public engagement duties of the office;

• Statewide, national or international reputation.

The post of Poet Laureate was created by the General Assembly in 1935 to promote North Carolina writers and the power of poetry and the written word. The program is implemented by the North Carolina Arts Council, and is an example of how artists are recognized and supported across the state.

Poets nominated for the post will be contacted to affirm their interest in being considered, and will be invited to submit materials in support of their nomination by the deadline, January 5, 2018.

After review of all applicants, a selection committee will recommend names to Governor Roy Cooper, who will choose the ninth poet laureate of North Carolina. An installation ceremony, open to the public, will take place during the first quarter of 2018.

Shelby Stephenson was installed as the poet laureate of North Carolina in February 2015. An accomplished poet and educator, Stephenson has been a tireless advocate for literacy and a respected ambassador for literature in service to the people of our state.

Since his installation Stephenson has made 129 appearances in 43 different North Carolina counties; published three books of poetry (one a reissue), with two additional books scheduled to be published; was awarded the prestigious 2016 Roanoke-Chowan Award for Poetry, for “Elegies for Small Game;” and received The William ‘Singing Billy’ Walker Award for Lifetime Achievement in Southern Letters from the University of South Carolina-Union, to name a few highlights.

Stephenson’s signature areas of interest included conducting writing workshops in assisted living and retirement communities; implementing workshops for those interested in exploring local archives and their family histories; and promoting writings about farming and farm life in North Carolina.

To learn more about the North Carolina Poet Laureate program visit

For more information contact David Potorti, Literature and Theater Director at the N.C. Arts Council at or 919-807-6512.

– submitted by N.C. Dept. of Natural and Cultural Resources