NC Poet Laureate speaks at College of Education


Fairley Lloyd

Dr. Tiffany Gilbert, left, and Jacki Shelton Green, right, at Green's Q&A forum at the Watson College of Education on Wednesday.

Fairley Lloyd, Assistant News Editor

“What is the geography inside of us? What are the containers we are writing out of or building art from inside of us?”

North Carolina Poet Laureate Jacki Shelton Green spoke on Wednesday at UNC Wilmington’s Watson College of Education in a Q&A style forum session. The event was sponsored by the UNCW Upperman African-American Cultural Center, the Department of English, and several other university departments as part of programming for Black History Month.

The forum questions were led by Tiffany Gilbert, chairwoman of the Department of English.

Most of Gilbert’s questions regarded the inspiration behind Green’s work, which Green said reflects her experiences as the “oddball” out.

“I think about the places where I want to belong, and I create them in my writing,” Green said.

Her feelings of isolation were exacerbated by her involvement in the Civil Rights Movement, a movement her parents had been involved. Green faced extensive pushback from white teachers and parents who were against the desegregation of North Carolina schools in the 1970s.

At one point, during a protest, Green was kicked out of school.

For Green, writing has been a tool for her to express her emotions, thoughts, and values. Her passion and dedication to her art have led her to several publications, accolades, and, most recently, appointed as the first African-American poet laureate in North Carolina.

Green’s main goal is to write poetry that does not only reach out to other black women or southerners like herself, but to everyone.

“For me, the ‘human code,’ the landscape for humanity, is home,” Green said. “At the end of the day, home has to be where we can coexist. I strive to write poetry where people can see themselves inside of that way, even if the landscape doesn’t look like theirs.”

Green’s works include “Mask,” “Dead on Arrival,” and “Feeding the Light.”