131: Stillness and kindred support. A conversation with NC Poet Laureate, Jaki Shelton Green

“And this is one of those times where I feel like I need to give myself permission to stand still, looking from one side to the other, up and down, looking at my neighbors. And I mean that in a very global sense, experiencing what people are going through, asking myself, is there a place for me to be a kindred support to them right now? I’m asking myself, what does it mean to be human inside of this season where we are all facing tremendous trepidation?” 

Jaki Shelton Green, NC Poet Laureate

In this episode, our North Carolina Poet Laureate, the incredible Jaki Shelton Green, delivers restorative words, creative encouragement, and spiritual succor. It’s no accident that we released this interview on the Monday of Election Week; consider this a balm for your unease and a motivation to claim your narrative.

Listen and breathe as Jaki muses about writing through difficult times, retreating ‘SistaWRITE style’, and her amazing new poetry album The River Speaks of Thirst.

A quick shout out to The North Carolina Writers’ Network and their upcoming online conference Nov 10-14, 2020. Jaki Shelton Green will be delivering the keynote address on Friday, November 13. The North Carolina Writer’s Network is a membership organization that provides programs and resources for writers of all levels of skills and experience in NC and beyond. For more info:  www.ncwriters.org

Photo by Sylvia Freeman

Click here to read the transcript of this interview.


Jaki Shelton Green is the first African American and third woman to be appointed as the North Carolina Poet Laureate. When he appointed her in 2018, Governor Cooper stated that “Jaki Shelton Green brings a deep appreciation of our state’s diverse communities to her role as an ambassador of North Carolina literature. Jaki’s appointment is a wonderful new chapter in North Carolina’s rich literary history.”

Her collegiate and professional experiences include currently teaching Documentary Poetry at the Duke University Center for Documentary Studies, Visiting Professor for the Carlow University MFA Program, Lenoir-Rhyne University Writer-in-Residence, Duke University Teaching for Equity Fellow, 2019 Barnard College Africana Studies Department Lewis-Ezekoye Distinguished Lecturer, 2019 UNC Chapel Hill Sonja Stone Memorial Lecturer, Taller Portobelo Artist Colony Portobelo Panama, University of Panama, Department of Cultural Resources for Brazil, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse Distinguished Visiting Writer, North Carolina Turkish Association, Alhambra Cultural Center in Marrakech Morocco, NC Symphony, NC African American Cultural Heritage Commission.

She is the owner of SistaWRITE and co-partner with Dream Yourself Awake and Vertikal Creative Ventures providing writing retreats and travel excursions for women writers in Sedona Arizona, Ocracoke North Carolina, Agadir Morocco, and Tullamore Ireland.

A few additional resources:

INDYWeek: N.C. Poet Laureate Jaki Shelton Green’s “The River Speaks of Thirst” Reclaims Stolen Breath

Buy the album: The River Speaks of Thirst

Watch the video: Oh My Brother

INDYWeek: N.C. Poet Laureate Jaki Shelton Green Mourns George Floyd with “Oh My Brother”

Listen to the podcast: Creativity is Medicine: A Conversation With N.C. Poet Laureate Jaki Shelton Green


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