Using Poetry to Magnify North Carolina’s Minorities

Jaki Shelton Green will soon be inducted as North Carolina’s ninth poet laureate. She is the third woman to hold this title, but is only the first African American. Previously, Green was inducted into North Carolina’s Literary Hall of Fame in 2014. She has published eight books of poetry, a play, and co-edited two anthologies. Green also teaches writing at Duke University's Center for Documentary Studies, and is the founder of SistaWRITE, “which brings women and spaces together for writing, community, sisterhood, and shared experience." She is a passionate advocate for the arts and encourages those whose voices have been silenced to use creative writing as a means of self-expression. In this interview with Indy Week, Green talks about what being the state’s first black poet laureate means to her and how she did not originally dream of becoming a writer.

For Further Reading:

To learn more about Jaki Shelton Green and listen to her poetry, check out her feature on North Carolina’s Literary Hall of Fame.


Discussion Question:

Do you think poetry can influence societal perceptions and change cultural norms? How have social media and YouTube altered the medium of poetry?

Action Item:

Watch these slam poems regarding social and political gender issues. If you’re inspired, write your own slam poem! (Who knows? You might even choose to perform it at a local open mic).