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Jaki Shelton Green Named Piedmont Laureate

November 15, 2008

jaki-shelton-greenThe first Piedmont Laureate of North Carolina was officially named today — Saturday, November 15 — at the N.C. Writers’ Network’s annual Fall Conference. Poet Jaki Shelton Green will serve a one-year term, designed to “to promote awareness and heighten appreciation for excellence in the literary arts throughout the Piedmont region” of North Carolina. Green, author of several collections of poetry, including most recently 2005’s Breath of the Song: New and Selected Poems (published by Carolina Wren Press), has already earned two of the state’s highest honors in literature: the North Carolina Award for Literature in 2003,  in recognition of “the countless lives she touches by word and deed,” and the Sam Ragan Award in 2007 for “outstanding contributions to the Fine Arts of North Carolina.”

In celebration of this honor and her new position, here is a brief taste of her work: the poem “things break down” from her 1996 collection Conjure Blues. The poem was reprinted in the extraordinary anthology Word and Witness: 100 Years of North Carolina Poetry, edited by Sally Buckner, who also served on the committee which selected Green for the laureate position.

things break down

things break down in different ways

like love

it’s been ten years since

i’ve been thin

things break down in different ways

like the absence of his smile

things break down in different ways

like the meadows of the skin

apples spoil

meat rots

aspirin takes care of toothache but

things break down in different ways

like the last time he praised my art

stood in my mirror

things break down in different ways

like sunday morning blues

getting sung out at the altar

i said things break down

in different ways

like my clock stopping 

one morning at 3 a.m.

he crashed his car into the river

things break down

        his toothbrush is still

beside the mirror

 

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