Exactly one year ago today, I was initiated into my reign as 2017 North Carolina Piedmont Laureate. This wasn’t my official coronation, complete with tiara, but it had a lot to do with setting the stage for a fabulous year. On this night, Katy Munger, the 2016 Piedmont Laureate in Mystery and Crime Fiction, invited me to drink and dine with the Laureates Emeritus, so they could share with me the secrets to Laureate success.

“Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t write anything all year,” they told me, and although at the time I had grand plans of writing a poem a day (I was, after all, the Piedmont Laureate in Poetry. Who better to set an example as a poet by composing 365 new poems by the end of the year?) I found by the end of January that I’d been unduly ambitious. I will say however, that I’ve written a number of new poems this year, and spent the early autumn creating a new poetry collection.

“Being Piedmont Laureate is great”, the Emeriti told me, “but the really spectacular time will come after your year ended, when you’ll get to be one of us, a Laureate Emeritus. In the meantime, they said revel in the fact that you have been chosen, you have received the literary stamp of approval.”

It felt a little bit like being 11 years old, and hanging out with your big sister and her friends while they tell you what it’s like to be a teenager. Writers are notoriously nerdy, but on that night, I felt pretty cool.

So it seems timely that this Saturday, December 9th, I have the chance to rejoin a number of my compatriots for a Gathering of Laureates at Mordecai Historic Park, where they’ll get to share their writerly brilliance with you once again.

katy_mungerKaty Munger, 2016 Piedmont Laureate
Mystery and Crime Fiction



james-maxeyJames Maxey, 2015 Piedmont Laureate
Speculative Fiction



ian_finleyIan Finley, 2012 Piedmont Laureate




scott_hulerScott Huler, 2011 Piedmont Laureate


The day promises to be splendid, with Mordecai holding its official Holiday Open House, and four Laureates Emeritus and myself teaching bite-sized workshops (20 minutes to an hour) in the historic buildings of the park—the old post office, Andrew Johnson’s birthplace and the Badger-Iredell Law office—and the accessible classroom in the Visitors’ Center, starting at 10:00 am. We’ll follow this up with a reading in beautiful St. Mark’s Chapel at 4 pm. Come to one workshop or try out all five, and stay for the reading.

Five Laureates in one place, free workshops and reading, a chance to tour the stunning Mordecai house, and festive seasonal food and drinks—what more could you desire on a Saturday in December?

Sign up soon at https://raleigharts.wufoo.com/forms/a-gathering-of-laureates/. Spaces are limited.

We look forward to seeing you this Saturday!