Saint Mary’s School was honored to welcome North Carolina Poet Laureate Jaki Shelton Green to campus Wednesday, April 20, 2022, for an all-school assembly in recognition of National Poetry Month. Head of School Carol Killebrew hosted a luncheon immediately afterwards in Smedes-Emory Parlor for the English Department, Black Student Union, Bookmark Club, and Creative Writing Club members and Inclusion Ambassadors, who sponsored this special event.
Ms. Green read some of her poetry to the students in assembly and offered the context for each one inspired by events and people and the oral history passed down to her in her family as well as her own life experiences. “Your life’s work and your story finds you,” she said. She spoke about the power and responsibility of story telling and truth telling and encouraged the students to “Be your own Muse.”
At the luncheon, Saint Mary's junior Destiny Ellington read one of her original poems. Destiny and junior Mahari Bennett also presented Ms. Green with the first copy, hot off the press, of Saint Mary's new literary magazine/journal, The Epilogue.
Jaki Shelton Green, ninth Poet Laureate of North Carolina appointed in 2018, is the first African American and third woman to be appointed as the North Carolina Poet Laureate and reappointed in 2021 for a second term by Governor Roy Cooper. She is a 2019 Academy of American Poet Laureate Fellow, 2014 NC Literary Hall of Fame Inductee, 2009 NC Piedmont Laureate appointment, 2003 recipient of the North Carolina Award for Literature. Jaki Shelton Green teaches Documentary Poetry at Duke University Center for Documentary Studies and the 2021 Frank B. Hanes Writer in Residence at UNC Chapel Hill. Additionally, she received the George School Outstanding Alumni Award in 2021. Her publications include: Dead on Arrival, Masks, Dead on Arrival and New Poems, Conjure Blues, singing a tree into dance, breath of the song, published by Blair Publishers. Feeding the Light, i want to undie you published by Jacar Press, i want to undie you English /Italian bilingual edition published by Lebeg Publishers. Juneteenth 2020, she released her first LP, poetry album, The River Speaks of Thirst, produced by Soul City Sounds and Clearly Records and released a CD, i want to undie you in 2021.
Jaki Shelton Green is the owner of SistaWRITE providing writing retreats for women writers in Sedona, Arizona; Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts; Ocracoke, North Carolina; Northern Morocco; and Tullamore Ireland. In 2021, The Arts Club of Chicago premiered a commissioned body of work in collaboration with Flutronix for the Black Is Series. In April 2022, the poem will be performed by Flutronix and the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. In 2022 Jaki Shelton Green was appointed as the Poet Laureate in Residence at the North Carolina Museum of Art.