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Who Will Be NC’s Next Poet Laureate?

North Carolina has had eight state poet laureates.

The first, Arthur Talmadge Abernethy, served from 1948-1953. He was followed by James Larkin Pearson, who was literally “poet laureate for life,” serving from 1953 until his death, at 102, in 1981.

Sam Ragan (1982-1996); Fred Chappell (1997-2002); Kathryn Stripling Byer (2005–2009); Cathy Smith Bowers (2010–2012); Joseph Bathanti (2012–2014); and Shelby Stephenson (2015-2017) have all taken their turns as literary ambassadors for the Tar Heel State.

Now the mantle will pass to someone else.

The North Carolina Arts Council is taking nominations for the state’s next poet laureate. The public is invited to nominate any North Carolina poet, or themselves, if they feel they are best suited for the position. Only current North Carolina residents are eligible to be nominated. Judging will be based on the following criteria:

  • A North Carolinian with deep connections to the cultural life of the state
  • Literary excellence of the poet’s work
  • Influence on other writers, and appreciation of literature in its diversity throughout the state
  • Ability and willingness to conduct the public engagement duties of the office
  • Statewide, national or international reputation

The deadline for nominations is Friday, December 8.

After review of all applicants, a selection committee will recommend names to Governor Roy Cooper, who will choose the ninth poet laureate of North Carolina. An installation ceremony, open to the public, will take place during the first quarter of 2018.

Nominate here.