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Ten North Carolina poets, from the Coast to the Mountains

Today we are featuring poets from across the state whose award-winning work showcases the depth and range of North Carolina's poetry community.

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Take Me with You, Wherever You’re Going by Jessica Jacobs
Chris Tonelli
, North Carolina Book Festival

Our first two posts featured novels that are already considered classics or are destined to become classics. Today we are featuring poets from across the state whose award-winning work showcases the depth and range of North Carolina’s poetry community.

Anna Lena Phillips Bell teaches at UNC-Wilmington and is the editor of their journal, Ecotone, and their press, Lookout Books. Her first book of poetry, Ornament, won the 2017 Vassar Miller Prize from the University of North Texas Press. In this debut collection, she explores the foothills of the Eastern U.S. and the old-time Appalachian tunes and Piedmont blues she was raised to love. With formal dexterity—in ballads and sonnets, Sapphics and amphibrachs—the poems in Ornament traverse the permeable boundary between the body and the natural world.

Ornament by Anna Lena Phillips Bell

Tyree Daye is from Youngsville, North Carolina and is the author of two poetry collections--River Hymns, the 2017 APR/Honickman First Book Prize winner, and Cardinal, forthcoming from Copper Canyon Press in 2020. River Hymns invites the reader into the complex lineage of the values, contradictions, and secrets of a southern family. These poems reflect on the rich legacy of a young black man's ancestry: what to use, what to leave behind, and what haunts. Daye is a Cave Canem fellow and teaches at UNC-Chapel Hill.

River Hymns by Tyree Daye

Eduardo C. Corral is the author of Guillotine, forthcoming in 2020 from Graywolf Press, and Slow Lightning (Yale Series of Younger Poets, 2012), selected by Carl Phillips as the winner of the 2011 Yale Series of Younger Poets. Seamlessly braiding English and Spanish, Corral's poems hurtle across literary and linguistic borders toward a lyricism that slows down experience. He employs a range of forms and phrasing, bringing the vivid particulars of his experiences as a Chicano and gay man to the page. His honors include a Whiting Writers’ Award and a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, as well as the Holmes National Poetry Prize and the Hodder Fellowship, both from Princeton University.

Corral teaches in the MFA program in creative writing at North Carolina State University.

Slow Lightning by Eduardo C. Corral

Gabrielle Calvocoressi’s most recent book is Rocket Fantastic (Persea Books, 2017). Rocket Fantastic reinvents the landscape and language of the body in interconnected poems that entwine a fabular past with an iridescent future by blurring, with disarming vulnerability, the real and the imaginary. Sorcerous, jazz-tinged, erotic, and wide-eyed, this is a pioneering work by a space-age balladeer. She is the recipient of the Connecticut Book Award in Poetry, a Stegner Fellowship and a Jones Lectureship at Stanford University, a Rona Jaffe Women Writers' Award, and The Paris Review's Bernard F. Connors Prize. Calvocoressi teaches at UNC-Chapel Hill.

Rocket Fantastic by Gabrielle Calvocoressi

Dorianne Laux’ s most recent collection of poetry is Only As the Day is Long: New and Selected (W. W. Norton, 2019). The wealth of her life experience finds expression in Laux’s earthy and lyrical depictions of working-class America. She writes with a perceptive frankness that is luminous in its specificity and universal in its appeal. Exploring experiences of survival and healing, of sexual love and celebration, Only as the Day Is Long shows Laux at the height of her powers. Previous work has received the Paterson Prize, the Oregon Book Award, a Pushcart Prize, and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. Her poems have been translated into French, Italian, Korean, Romanian, Afrikaans, Dutch, and Brazilian Portuguese. Laux teaches in the MFA program at North Carolina State University.

Only As the Day is Long by Dorianne Laux

Jaki Shelton Green is the award-winning author of eight collections of poetry, most recently I Want to Undie You (Jacar Press), her unflinching cry of sorrow at the untimely death of her daughter Imani. What it reveals is her insistence, through grief, on the joyful remembrance and celebration of life. Green is the first African American, and third woman, to be appointed as the North Carolina Poet Laureate, and she teaches Documentary Poetry at the Duke University Center for Documentary Studies.

I Want To Undie You by Jaki Shelton Green

Emilia Phillips is the author of three poetry collections from the University of Akron Press, most recently Empty Clip (2018). These poems bore into the cultures of violence in the United States while candidly cross-firing upon the poets' complicity and testifying on these cultures' effects on female body image and mental health. Phillips is an Assistant Professor in the MFA Writing Program and the Department of English at UNC-Greensboro.

Empty Clip by Emilia Phillips

Nickole Brown’s most recent collection is Fanny Says (BOA Editions). This “unleashed love song” brings her sassy, bawdy, grandmother to life. A cross-genre collection that reads like a novel, this book is both a collection of oral history and a lyrical and moving biography that wrestles with the complexities of the South. Brown is the Editor for the Marie Alexander Poetry Series and teaches periodically at a number of places, including the Sewanee School of Letters MFA Program, the Great Smokies Writing Program at UNCA, and the Hindman Settlement School. Currently, she’s at work on a bestiary of sorts about the animals she encounters while working in four different sanctuaries in Asheville.

Fanny Says by Nickole Brown

Jessica Jacobs’ most recent collection is Take Me with You, Wherever You’re Going (Four Way Books), a memoir-in-poems about coming of age in Florida and the complexities and joys of early marriage between the poet and her wife. Jacobs has led workshops for Hendrix College and UNC-Wilmington’s MFA program, among other programs—and is now the Chapbook Editor of the Beloit Poetry Journal. She lives in Asheville.

Take Me with You, Wherever You’re Going by Jessica Jacobs
Chris Tonelli is a founding editor of the independent poetry press, Birds, LLC, and he curates the So & So Series and edits So & So Magazine. He is the author of five chapbooks and two full-length collections, most recently Whatever Stasis (Barrelhouse Books, 2018). Chris is the Co-Director of the NC Book Festival, and he works in the Libraries at NC State and co-owns So & So Books in Raleigh where he lives with his wife, Allison, and their two kids, Miles and Vera.

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