Origin of the Series:
The Gilbert-Chappell Distinguished Poet Series supports the mission of the North Carolina Poetry Society to foster the reading, writing, and enjoyment of poetry across the state. Three Distinguished Poets from the east, central, and west of North Carolina will mentor each a middle-school, a high-school, a college or university student, and an adult within their respective regions.
The GCDPS originated when the NCPS Board voted in 2003 to follow the advice of Fred Chappell, then North Carolina’s Poet Laureate. He had written and advised the NCPS president about various approaches to take in furthering the NCPS mission of encouraging the reading, writing, and enjoyment of poetry. The GCDPS plans evolved from that correspondence and earlier discussions by Board members.
The Gilbert-Chappell Distinguished Poet Series offers a way for poets to give back to the North Carolina poetry community. Past Gilbert-Chappell Distinguished Poets include Ann Deagon, Joseph Bathanti, John Hoppenthaler, Becky Gould Gibson, Lavonne Adams, Catherine Carter, among others.
Introducing the 2015-2016 Distinguished Poets
Amber Flora Thomas is the recipient of several major poetry awards, including the Dylan Thomas American Poet Prize, Richard Peterson Prize, and Ann Stanford Prize. Her published work includes Eye of Water: Poems (2005), which won the Cave Canem Prize, and The Rabbits Could Sing: Poems (2012). Most recently, her poetry has appeared in Zyzzyva, Callaloo, Orion Magazine, Alaska Quarterly Review, American Literary Review, and Crab Orchard Review, among other publications. She received her MFA from Washington University in St. Louis in 1998. She joined the East Carolina University faculty in 2012.
Beth Copeland’s second book Transcendental Telemarketer (2012) received the runner up award in the North Carolina Poetry Society’s 2013 Oscar Arnold Young Award for best poetry book by a North Carolina writer. Her first book Traveling through Glass received the 1999 Bright Hill Press Poetry Book Award. Her poems have been published in many literary magazines and anthologies, and she has been profiled as poet of the week on the PBS NewsHour web site. Retired from full-time teaching at Methodist University, she currently teaches creative writing at her alma mater, St. Andrews University. Beth lives in a log cabin in rural North Carolina.
Pat Riviere-Seel is the author of two chapbooks: No Turning Back Now (2004) and The Serial Killer’s Daughter (2009). Her most recent poetry collection, Nothing Below but Air (2014), was a semifinalist for the Thomas Wolfe Memorial Literary Award. The Serial Killer’s Daughter has been staged by several theatrical groups. Pat has taught in UNC Asheville’s Great Smokies Writing Program and in 2012 was poet-in-residence at the NC Zoo. She is a co-editor of Kakalak 2016. Before earning her MFA from Queens University of Charlotte, she worked as a newspaper journalist, publicist, and lobbyist. She lives in Asheville, NC, in woods populated by bear, wild turkey, and an assortment of other wildlife.
Goal of the Series:
The goal of the Gilbert-Chappell Distinguished Poet Series (GCDPS) is to support the mission of the North Carolina Poetry Society (NCPS), that being to foster the reading, writing, and enjoyment of poetry across the state, with the following priorities:
- Increase outreach across the state
- Involve students new to the NCPS
- Provide expert guidance to promising student poets
- Increase skills of poets, both student and adult
- Develop new venues for student poets and experienced poets to read together
- Provide opportunities for student poets to read at local venues such as their local libraries
- Develop mentoring relationships between student poets and experienced poets
Overview of the Series:
Three Distinguished Poets, one each from the east, central, and west of North Carolina, will mentor a middle-school, a high-school, a college or university student, and an adult not currently enrolled in a school program within the respective regions (as defined, by counties, on the list at the end of these guidelines). Home-school students will be eligible to participate. Within these regions, each Distinguished Poet will present one reading with his or her students. Each Student Poet will present one local reading of his or her own work in his or her local library, and the Distinguished Poet may attend these readings, as feasible. When possible, the North Carolina Center for the Book will provide funding for Distinguished Poets to read at local libraries, if they choose to participate in the Student Poets’ local readings.
Distinguished Poets may also be invited to read at the Weymouth Center for the Arts & Humanities, in Southern Pines, NC, as part of the Sam Ragan Writing Series on a Sunday afternoon. Funding for this reading may come through the Weymouth Center. If the coordinators of the Weymouth Series desire such an event, they will be responsible for contacting the poets and arranging the event.