Yesterday, I was blessed to begin the day with poetry. Gideon Young – teacher, poet, and flutist – captivated each of us with a program of haiku, a few longer poems, and absolutely gorgeous music. Perhaps what resonated with me most, was a very conversational moment in the program when Gideon said, “poetry became real for me, when poets became real for me.” I found myself at that moment, wanting to reach out to all of my mentors in this craft, and this morning, those words were with me still.
I met Jaki Shelton Green several years ago during a reading for International Women’s Day. She was not yet the poet laureate of North Carolina, but had begun cultivating the kind of writing community that I had always dreamed of being a part of. She owned every bit of her Black-woman-poet experience and had no reservations about sharing all of the wisdom that can be packed into a first-meeting, first-reading conversation, with me. I was in absolute awe. And though I didn’t have Gideon’s quote in my arsenal at the time, in retrospect, I can say she absolutely made poetry more real.
The poet laureate award is awarded for a serious poem of any subject and style to a poet currently residing in North Carolina. Our preliminary judge, Anne McCaster, will select ten finalists, and Green will select the winning piece. Send us your poems of up to 110 lines (including poem title, any epigraph, blank lines, and lines of text) to firstname.lastname@example.org . Be sure to check out the adult contest page for a complete list of submission guidelines.
Before you do anything else, read Green’s that boy from georgia is coming through here. Be sure to check out the 2021 Poet Laureate Award winner in the 2021 Pinesong; and learn about this year’s preliminary judge below.
Anne McMaster is a poet and professional playwright. A former lecturer in Theatre and English in NI and California, she designs /facilitates projects on dementia and creativity, education, community development, mental health, and creative writing and works internationally as a creative writing mentor. Her work is published in journals and anthologies in the UK, Ireland and America and she writes regularly for BBC Radio Ulster. Walking Off the Land, her debut collection, was published by Hedgehog Poetry Press in May 2021. Póame – a collection of poetry in Ulster Scots – will be published in late 2021 and Unexpected Item in the Bagging Area (Collected Poems) in 2022.