We’re outrageously tardy in passing along this news, but if you haven’t heard, poet Mimi Herman was named the 2017 Piedmont Laureate, and we want to take a moment to extend our heartiest, if belated, congratulations.
Each year, the arts commissions of Durham, Orange County, Raleigh, and the United Arts Council of Raleigh and Wake County, appoint a writer for a one-year term. The Piedmont Laureate reads at free community events, leads workshops or other types of outreach, takes part in online activities that “promote literature and creative writing,” and other innovative activites that expand appreciation of the literary arts.
Mimi Herman is a writer, editor, teaching artist, and consultant. She holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a Masters of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Warren Wilson College. She has worked as an arts and education consultant for over twenty years, engaging over 25,000 students and teachers with writing residencies, as well as designing and providing professional development for teaching artists, teachers and administrators.
Upon her appointment, Mimi offered the following reflection on education and the arts:
In recent years, we in North Carolina have been particularly focused on excellence in education. We want the best for our children. We want to keep them in school and help them learn the most they can. And as we test new possibilities, weâ€™re discovering what weâ€™ve suspected all along: the arts are essential to our studentsâ€™ education. At one point in time, we thought of arts as extras, the power locks and automatic windows on the vehicle of education. But now weâ€™re seeing that the arts are the engine that drives the car. Students get out of bed in the morning excited to be going to school where theyâ€™ll be sculpting, dancing, painting, singing, acting, and writing. Some students, for the first time in their lives, are discovering that they want to learn. Education is about a lot of things: creating good citizens, opening studentsâ€™ minds, helping us learn more about the world in which we live, passing on our heritageâ€¦. Arts programs have real effects in the real world. They use the resources of dedicated artists, educators and arts organizations, together with the talents and intelligence found in every student in every school in our state. They enable students to experience the joy of the creative process while reinforcing learning in other curriculum areas: language arts, math, social studies, science, physical education.
Past piedmont laureates include Zelda Lockhart, who will be a panlist at Slush Pile Live! at the North Carolina Writers’ Network 2017 Spring Conference; John Claude Bemis, who’ll lead the session “Exercising the Imagination (Childrenâ€™s Writing)” at NCWN’s Spring Conference; and NC Literary Hall of Fame inductee Jaki Shelton Green.
For more about the Piedmont Laureate program, click here.