Mimi Herman

2017 Piedmont Laureate, Poetry

“How can I know what I mean until I see what I say?” E. M. Forster once said. I believe we can do this best by writing. Write a draft. See what you’re trying to say to yourself. Play with the sound and language of it. Say it better, so it’s not just you talking to yourself, but you sharing what’s in your head and heart with other people in a way that inspires them to say, “That’s exactly what I felt. I just hadn’t figured out how to say it.”

Mimi Herman in YosemiteMimi Herman is a Kennedy Center teaching artist, director of the United Arts Council Arts Integration Institute, and a writer and editor. Since 1990, she has engaged over 25,000 students in writing residencies, as well as designing and providing professional development in arts integration for teaching artists, teachers and administrators throughout the country. She has taught in the Masters of Education and EdD programs at Lesley University and has been an associate editor for Teaching Artist Journal. Mimi holds a BA from UNC-CH and an MFA in Creative Writing from Warren Wilson College, and is the author of Logophilia and The Art of Learning. Her writing has appeared in Michigan Quarterly Review, Shenandoah, Crab Orchard Review, The Hollins Critic, Main Street Rag, Prime Number Magazine and other journals. She has performed her poetry and fiction at venues ranging from Why There Are Words in Sausalito, California to Symphony Space in New York City. With her partner, John Yewell, she offers Writeaways writing retreats for writers in France, Italy and North Carolina. You can find her at http://www.mimiherman.com and at http://www.writeaways.com.


On education and the arts:

In recent years, we in North Carolina have been particularly focused on excellence in education. We want the best for our children. We want to keep them in school and help them learn the most they can. And as we test new possibilities, we’re discovering what we’ve suspected all along: the arts are essential to our students’ education. At one point in time, we thought of arts as extras the power locks and automatic windows on the vehicle of education. But now we’re seeing that the arts are the engine that drives the car. Students get out of bed in the morning excited to be going to school where they’ll be sculpting, dancing, painting, singing, acting and writing. Some students, for the first time in their lives, are discovering that they want to learn. Education is about a lot of things: creating good citizens, opening students’ minds, helping us learn more about the world in which we live, passing on our heritage…. Arts programs have real effects in the real world. They use the resources of dedicated artists, educators and arts organizations, together with the talents and intelligence found in every student in every school in our state. They enable students to experience the joy of the creative process while reinforcing learning in other curriculum areas: language arts, math, social studies, science, physical education.