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Jaki Shelton Green first Piedmont Laureate

Poet Jaki Shelton Green has been selected to serve as the first Piedmont Laureate.
Similar to the N.C. Poet Laureate program, The Piedmont Laureate program is dedicated to building a literary bridge for residents to come together and celebrate the art of writing. Co-sponsored by the city of Raleigh Arts Commission, Durham Arts Council, Orange County Arts Commission and United Arts Council of Raleigh & Wake County, the program’s goal is to promote awareness and heighten appreciation for excellence in the literary arts throughout the Piedmont.
“I am honored and humbled to be the first one,” says Green, who says she now feels sanctioned to spread the message to a wider group of writers that there needs to be more collaboration and networking, especially among emerging poets.
“One of our long-range goals in establishing this program is the hope that it will serve as a model to inspire similar, regionally-based laureate programs in the state,” explained Margaret DeMott, director of artist services at the Durham Arts Council.
Green hopes to work with community-based organizations that do literary programs and collaborate on strengthening their efforts.
Green’s publications include “Dead on Arrival,” “Masks,” “Conjure Blues” and “breath of the song,” which was cited as one of two Best Poetry Books of the Year by the Independent Weekly.
Her books are published by the Durham based, independent press, Carolina Wren Press and are available at www.carolinawrenpress. org. Her poems have appeared in numerous magazines and journals, including Ms. Magazine, Essence, The Crucible and Obsidian and she has read and performed her poetry and taught writing workshops throughout the United States, Caribbean, Europe and Central and South America.
She has served on the Durham Arts Council Emerging Artists Committee and received the North Carolina Award for Literature in 2003, the 2006 Artist in Residence at the Taller Portobelo Artist Colony and the 2007 Sam Ragan Award.
Green will serve for one year as Piedmont Laureate and receive an honorarium of $5,000. Her duties will include presenting public readings and workshops, participating at select public functions and creating the outline for an original community activity to expand appreciation of literature.

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