Nominations Open For Next NC Poet Laureate

NC Poet Laureate Shelby Stephenson of Benson

Nominations for the state’s next poet laureate, the ambassador of North Carolina literature, will be accepted from Wednesday, Nov. 15 to Friday, Dec. 8 online at

The public is invited to nominate any North Carolina poet, or themselves, if they feel they are best suited for the position. Only current North Carolina residents are eligible to be nominated. Judging will be based on the following criteria:

  • A North Carolinian with deep connections to the cultural life of the state;
  • Literary excellence of the poet’s work;
  • Influence on other writers, and appreciation of literature in its diversity throughout the   state;
  • Ability and willingness to conduct the public engagement duties of the office;
  • Statewide, national or international reputation.

The post of Poet Laureate was created by the General Assembly in 1935 to promote North Carolina writers and the power of poetry and the written word. The program is implemented by the North Carolina Arts Council, and is an example of how artists are recognized and supported across the state.

Poets nominated for the post will be contacted to affirm their interest in being considered, and will be invited to submit materials in support of their nomination by the deadline, January 5, 2018.

After review of all applicants, a selection committee will recommend names to Governor Roy Cooper, who will choose the ninth poet laureate of North Carolina. An installation ceremony, open to the public, will take place during the first quarter of 2018.

Shelby Stephenson of Benson was installed as the poet laureate of North Carolina in February 2015. An accomplished poet and educator, Stephenson has been a tireless advocate for literacy and a respected ambassador for literature in service to the people of our state.

Since his installation Stephenson has made 129 appearances in 43 different North Carolina counties; published three books of poetry (one a reissue), with two additional books scheduled to be published; was awarded the prestigious 2016 Roanoke-Chowan Award for Poetry, for “Elegies for Small Game;” and received The William ‘Singing Billy’ Walker Award for Lifetime Achievement in Southern Letters from the University of South Carolina-Union, to name a few highlights.

Stephenson’s signature areas of interest included conducting writing workshops in assisted living and retirement communities; implementing workshops for those interested in exploring local archives and their family histories; and promoting writings about farming and farm life in North Carolina.

To learn more about the North Carolina Poet Laureate program visit:

About the North Carolina Arts Council
The North Carolina Arts Council builds on our state’s longstanding love of the arts, leading the way to a more vibrant future. The Arts Council is an economic catalyst, fueling a thriving nonprofit creative sector that generates $2.12 billion in annual direct economic activity. The Arts Council also sustains diverse arts expression and traditions while investing in new innovative approaches to art-making. The North Carolina Arts Council has proven to be a champion for youth by cultivating tomorrow’s creative citizens through arts education.

About the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources

The N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources (NCDNCR) is the state agency with a vision to be the leader in using the state’s natural and cultural resources to build the social, cultural, educational and economic future of North Carolina. NCDNCR’s mission is to improve the quality of life in our state by creating opportunities to experience excellence in the arts, history, libraries and nature in North Carolina by stimulating learning, inspiring creativity, preserving the state’s history, conserving the state’s natural heritage, encouraging recreation and cultural tourism, and promoting economic development.

NCDNCR includes 27 historic sites, seven history museums, two art museums, two science museums, three aquariums and Jennette’s Pier, 39 state parks and recreation areas, the N.C. Zoo, the nation’s first state-supported Symphony Orchestra, the State Library, the State Archives, the N.C. Arts Council, State Preservation Office and the Office of State Archaeology, along with the Division of Land and Water Stewardship. For more information, please call (919) 807-7300 or visit