North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper announced his choice of Orange County native, poet, author and teacher Jaki Shelton Green as the state’s next poet laureate on Thursday morning.

Green will become North Carolina’s ninth poet laureate, while becoming the first African American and third woman to serve in the role. Poet laureates promote poetry and spoken word throughout the state and are often chosen due to their literary excellence and connections to state culture.

“Jaki Shelton Green brings a deep appreciation of our state’s diverse communities to her role as an ambassador of North Carolina literature,” Cooper said in a release announcing the designation. “Jaki’s appointment is a wonderful new chapter in North Carolina’s rich literary history.”

Green, an Orange County native, has been active in teaching, writing and advocating literature for over 40 years. An author of eight poetry books and one play, she is currently an instructor at Duke University’s Center for Documentary Studies. She is also an active community arts advocate, having facilitated creative writing classes and created programs for incarcerated, mentally ill and homeless citizens across the country.

“I am deeply touched to be named poet laureate,” said Green in response to her appointment. “To serve as North Carolina’s representative for poetry and the spoken word is a tremendous honor.”

Green holds an extensive list of awards. She was given the 2003 North Carolina Award for Literature, the highest honor for a citizen’s contributions to the state’s literature and fine art. Green was also awarded the 2007 Sam Ragan Award for Contributions to the Fine Arts of North Carolina and nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2014. She became the state’s first Piedmont Laureate in 2009 and is a North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame inductee.

Green will replace Shelby Stephenson, who ended a two-year term after being appointed by former Governor Pat McCrory in 2015. She will be installed into the position during a public ceremony later this summer.


Photo via NC Department of Natural and Cultural Resource