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Literary Selma in Semifinals for Strongest Town

Selma, NC, is competing in the Strongest Town Contest and needs your vote! 

Early competitors Asheville and Rutherfordton have fallen by the wayside. Selma is the last North Carolina town standing.

Why vote for this literary outpost? Because it isn’t an outpost anymore, thanks to support from the North Carolina Writers Network, the Johnston County Arts Council, and an active local writers’ group, Triangle East Writers.

Shelby Stephenson recently signed copies of his latest poetry collection, Cow Mire Songs, at The Story Keeper Bookstore

Annette Saunooke Clapsaddle stopped by Wool Family Farm on her way to a two-day literary event in Smithfield supported by the Johnston County Arts Council.

Every Wednesday, Activate Selma gathers at 9 am in ever-changing locations to spur each other to problem-solve creatively. By changing themselves, they are changing Selma. Their motto is, “we don’t complain, we take action.”

Every Thursday at the Harrison Center for Active Aging local seniors meet for “Telling Our Stories,” using Julia Cameron’s book, It’s Never Too Late to Begin Again for their writing prompts and sharing.

Every fourth Friday, Old Fashioned Ice Cream welcomes writers from as far as Garner and Goldsboro to perform at the Selma Open Mic. The emcee is Johnston Now magazine contributing writer Qarol Price.

There are only four towns (Selma, NC; Norfolk, NE; Edmonton, AB, and Maumee, OH) and two rounds left to the competition, which ends mid-April. 

Two representatives from the winning town will be flown to the 2024 Strong Towns National Gathering in Cincinnati (May 14-15) to be presented with their award certificate. Strong Towns’ video creator will also visit the winning town later in 2024 to make a documentary short film about the community.

If you’d like to help create a winning story for a North Carolina literary town, please vote for Selma at

– Cindy Brookshire

Cindy Brookshire is the author of the book, A Heart for Selma: 12 Stories of Activate Selma NC, and serves NCWN as the regional representative for Johnston, Harnett, and Sampson counties.