Editorial: Congratulations Jaki Shelton Green

Jaki Shelton Green

Editorial: Congratulations Jaki Shelton Green
February 21
03:15 2019

Poetry and Jaki Shelton Green is synonymous in North Carolina.  The North Carolina native, who currently resides in Mebane, has been an active voice in the state’s literacy campaigns and teaching the community for more than 40 years. Her service and sacrifices have given Green one the highest and historic honors in North Carolina’s literary community. 

In a ceremony on Feb. 18 at the N.C. State Capitol Building in Raleigh, Governor Roy Cooper inducted Green as the North Carolina’s ninth Poet Laureate.  She is the first African-American to have the honor bestowed upon her and the third woman. In a tweet on Feb. 18, Governor Cooper wrote:

“For the first time in our state’s history, an African American woman will serve as Poet Laureate. Congratulations Jaki Shelton Green, we’re lucky to have a poet of such talent as our new laureate.”

In several interviews, Green talks about how poetry and writing have been part of her life since she was a young child, even though being an oceanographer was her first career choice. She considers herself as the “people’s poet” because she believes in mining unheard literary voices from the “everydayness” of the community, seeking those outside of academia. 

In an article published by she was quoted as saying, “I’m definitely interested in the ordinariness, the everydayness, of the arts, and in accessibility to all of our citizens, and especially in taking poetics out of the canon,” she says. “[Many people] think of poetry as Victorian poetry, or poetry that they studied in school years ago, which did not include an array of voices, did not include what our continent looks like. I am very mindful of wanting to make spaces for the poetry of the nontraditional writer, the poetry of the nonacademic writer, and helping with the validation process for those voices.”

She teaches documentary poetry at Duke University’s Center of Documentary Studies and is the owner of SistaWrite, an organization that provides retreats for women writers.  Green has written eight books of poetry, co-edited two poetry anthologies and written one play. Among many other awards and recognitions, Green is a 2014 North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame inductee and was the recipient of the North Carolina Award for Literature in 2003.

We would like to congratulate Jaki Shelton Green on this momentous and historic accomplishment.

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