2015 NC Poet Laureate Shelby Stephenson recently visited the students and staff at Cleveland High School. Stephenson is a 1956 graduate of the old Cleveland School and still lives in Johnston County.
Stephenson, who originally pursued a career in law, has received many awards for his poetry including a 2014 induction into the NC Literary Hall of Fame as well as his recent installation as the NC Poet Laureate.
As part of his visit, Stephenson held an informal talk with approximately 50 staff and students. He shared memories of his high school days, playing basketball, living on a farm, and growing up on “hillbilly music.” Stephenson impressed upon all in attendance the importance of reading and being open to writing about themselves, their backgrounds, and their families.
“I didn’t choose the arts, writing, or teaching. All of that chose me, really,” said Stephenson during his visit.
Following the lunch he met with several classes for a more formal presentation in the auditorium.
Stephenson also presented a gift consisting of several of his books and CDs to be added to the school media center collection.