North Carolina is home to wonderful children’s book authors who are also poets. Their work shines at any time of year. But in honor of National Poetry Month, here are three you should know:

Called the godfather of the poetry slam in the Southeast, acclaimed writer Allan Wolf has been a performer for more than three decades. His outstanding work for young people spans from picture books and poetry to young adult novels. His latest offering, No Buddy Like a Book (Candlewick), is a rhyming tribute to the power of imagination and joy of reading. Check out his fun, musical performance of poems and book excerpts. Visit Allan at his website.

Johnny Ray Moore’s journey to being a writer began in third grade. He knew he had a gift that should be shared. He’s been creating ever since. Writing poetry for the very young through board books and easy readers is Johnny’s specialty. His beloved board book, The Story of Martin Luther King, Jr. (Worthy Kids/Hachette), sold more than 100,000 copies. Recently, Johnny, a former student of the Institute for Children’s Literature, was celebrated as a member of their Winner’s Circle. You can see him share his touching poetry and stories in the global “Mirror Mirror on the wall, how could we hear them all” project. Visit Johnny at his website.

New York Times bestseller Carole Boston Weatherford has been called the dean of the nonfiction picture book biography. Author of dozens of award-winning titles, she uses poetry to illuminate the stories of people and events that belong in the spotlight. Marilyn Monroe. Fannie Lou Hamer. Arturo Schomburg. She has won countless accolades for her work. Her latest honor is having two of her books, Box: Henry Brown Mails Himself to Freedom (Candlewick), and By and By: Charles Albert Tindley, the Father of Gospel Music (Atheneum) named to NCTE’s list of Notable Poetry Books and Verse Novels. Hear her read excerpts of Box and Beauty Mark, her verse novel about Marilyn Monroe, here. Visit Carole at her website.

Upcoming Events:

Violin Vigils

An inspiring group of young musicians, the Philharmonic Association’s United Strings of Color, asked me to offer tips on selecting poetry to accompany their Violin Vigils, a series of performances in music and verse “to commemorate Black lives lost and call for equal justice for all.” We discussed figurative language, rhythm, meaning and more. I was moved by the powerful poems and their thoughtful ideas about connecting the themes with their violin pieces. The first Violin Vigil, an outdoor event at St. Ambrose Episcopal Church, takes place Saturday, May 1. Space is limited to honor Covid-19 guidelines. You can get a sample of their music here. You can register to attend one of the Vigils here.

May 3rd at 7pm, 5 NC Creators Talk Writing and Illustrating for Kids. Hosted by Flyleaf Books.

Behind the Books: 5 NC Creators Talk Writing & Illustrating for Kids

If you’ve ever thought of writing a children’s book, this event’s for you. Join me for a conversation with nationally acclaimed North Carolina children’s book creators John Claude Bemis, Clay Carmichael, Jacqueline Ogburn, and Donna Washington about the whole children’s book creation process. We will share our publishing journeys, offer tips on creating for children, and provide insight into the children’s literature field.

This event is part of the Piedmont Laureate program, and is co-sponsored by the Orange County Arts Commission, the Chapel Hill Public Library, the Orange County Public Library, and Flyleaf Books.

Carrie Knowles Has First In-Person Quail Ridge Event

Join Carrie J. Knowles, the 2014 Piedmont Laureate in Short Fiction, for Quail Ridge Books’ first in-person event since the pandemic started on Sunday, May 23 at 2 p.m. She will talk about her novels, A Musical Affair and The Inevitable Past. You don’t want to miss it. Details here.

Carrie Jane Knowles has published five novels, a collection of short fiction, a memoir about her mother’s journey with Alzheimer’s, and a writing workbook. She writes a personal perspectives column for Psychology Today: Shifting Forward. Learn more about her work here.