More About Jaki Shelton Green

Jaki Shelton Green was named North Carolina’s ninth poet laureate in June 2018 by Governor Roy Cooper.

Poet, teacher, and community arts advocate, Green is a native of Orange County and has been active in North Carolina’s literary and teaching community for more than 40 years. She has penned eight books of poetry, co-edited two poetry anthologies and written one play. She is a 2014 North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame inductee and was the recipient of the North Carolina Award for Literature in 2003.

“Jaki Shelton Green brings a deep appreciation of our state’s diverse communities to her role as an ambassador of North Carolina literature,” Governor Cooper said. “Jaki’s appointment is a wonderful new chapter in North Carolina’s rich literary history."

Green is the first African American and the third woman to serve as the state’s ambassador for poetry and the spoken word.

“Jaki is an award-winning poet with a strong commitment to use poetry as a platform for building bridges across race, religion, age, gender, and identity,” said Susi H. Hamilton, secretary, N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources. “What a welcome addition she is to the tradition of poet laureates in North Carolina.”

Green currently teaches Documentary Poetry at Duke University Center for Documentary Studies. Over the last 40 years, she has taught poetry and facilitated creative writing classes at public libraries, universities and community colleges, public and private schools and with literary organizations across the U.S.

“I am deeply touched to be named poet laureate,” Green said. “To serve as North Carolina’s representative for poetry and the spoken word is a tremendous honor.”

Green’s efforts are focusing on the creation of documentary poetry, working with North Carolina communities to explore the ways they document their unique regional histories and significant historical events.

As a community arts advocate, Green has created and facilitated programs that serve various audiences and populations, including the incarcerated, homeless, chronically and mentally ill, victims of domestic violence, public and private schools, literacy programs, immigrants, and community economic development and social justice nonprofits.

Green’s awards include a 2019 American Academy of Poets Laureate Fellowship, 2018 Tar Heel of the Year Finalist, 2018 Indies Art Award, 2018 NC Literary and Historical Association R. Hunt Parker Award, 2018 Phi Betta Kappa Award, 2017-2018 Duke University Faculty Travel Grant, 2017 Certification of Teacher Excellence presented by the Kingdom of Morocco Ministry of National Education, 2016 Kathryn H. Wallace Award for Artists in Community Service, 2014 NC Literary Hall of Fame Inductee, 2014 Pushcart Prize Nominee, 2010 Fine Arts Emerald Award (Raleigh LINKS), 2009 NC Piedmont Laureate appointment, 2007 Sam Ragan Award for Contributions to the Fine Arts of North Carolina, 2003 recipient of the North Carolina Award for Literature (the highest award the state can bestow for significant contributions in science, literature, fine arts, and public service), 2003 North Carolinian Society induction.

Additionally, Green is the recipient of two NC Emerging Artist Grants, the African American Writer’s Collective Distinction Award, NC Writers Network Blumenthal Award, 2002 Omega Iota Finer Womanhood Award (Zeta Phi Beta Sorority) and Delta Arts Award (Delta Sigma Theta Sorority).

Green’s poetry has been widely choreographed by dance companies including the Chuck Davis African American Dance Company in conjunction with the Kennedy Center and the Nasher Museum at Duke University; Murmurations Dance; Two Near the Edge Dance Company; Danca Nova Dance Company, in collaboration with the Colorado Naropa Dance Institute; and Miami City Ballet.

Selected Publications


  • I Want to Undie You (Jacar Press, 2017)
  • Feeding the Light (Jacar Press, 2014)
  • Breath of the Song: New and Selected Poems (Carolina Wren Press, 2005)
  • singing a tree into dance (Carolina Wren Press, 2003)
  • Conjure Blues: poems (Carolina Wren Press, 1996)
  • Dead on Arrival (reissue, Carolina Wren Press, 1996)
  • Swiss Time (Mud Puppy Press, 1990)
  • Dead on Arrival and New Poems (Carolina Wren Press, 1983)
  • Mask (Carolina Wren Press, 1981)

Co-editor (with Timothy F. Crowley)

  • Immigration Emigration Diversity, an Anthology (Chapel Hill Press, Inc., 2005)
  • Poets for Peace, a Collection (Chapel Hill Press, 2002)


  • Blue Opal, 1994

Poetry Readings