Three poets to compete for poetic title

Published 8:21 pm Wednesday, January 10, 2018


Three finalists have been selected in the running for Pamlico Writers’ Group’s inaugural poet laureate, who will represent eastern North Carolina. Now, they’re heading for a competition in front of a live audience.

Finalists Deborah Doolittle, Malaika King Albrecht and Marty Silverthorne are all award-winning poets from eastern North Carolina.

Doolittle, from Jacksonville, has had 389 of her poems published in 169 different literary magazines, published two chapbooks — “No Crazy Notions” and “That Echo”— and “Floribunda,” a collection of poetry. Albrecht lives in Ayden, is the founding editor of an online poetry magazine, which she uses as an opportunity to discover new poets and help them get their work published. Albrecht also creates poetry workshops for survivors of sexual assault and sexual abuse—an endeavor that allows her to combine poetry with her professional life, according to a press release from the Writers’ Group. Silverthorne’s work can be found in many publications and in 2015, he won the North Carolina Poetry Society’s Poet Laureate Award for his poem “Testimonial of Jars,” from his chapbook “Holy Ghosts of Whiskey.”

Each of the finalists was asked how they would use the role of Heart of the Pamlico poet laureate to promote poetry.

Promoting poetry in schools, through language arts programs and poetry workshops, would be Doolittle’s focus.

“What I can do is impart my love and my appreciation of poetry, my passion and enthusiasm for the art and craft that is poetry,” she wrote.

Silverthorne said his focus would be on educating people about the resources available to writers and poets, as well as building on Pamlico Writers’ Group’s existing events such as workshops and readings.

“I believe this is an extraordinary opportunity and that the limits of its possibility are only exhausted by imagination and enthusiasm,” Silverthorne wrote.

The three poets will face off at Arts of the Pamlico’s Turnage Theatre at 7 p.m. on Feb. 3, each reading their work in front of a panel of judges and an audience. Judges East Carolina University professor and novelist, short-story writer and poet Luke Whisnant; poet, ECU professor and Washington resident John Hoppenthaler; and poet and workshop director Phillip Shabazz will decide which poet becomes the first Heart of the Pamlico poet laureate, and a cash prize will be awarded to the winner.

The competition is open to the public.