Finalists to compete for 2020 Heart of the Pamlico Poet Laureate

Published 7:56 pm Wednesday, March 11, 2020

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From Pamlico Writers’ Group

The Pamlico Writers’ Group is pleased to announce its finalists for the title of 2020 Heart of the Pamlico Poet Laureate who will represent all of eastern North Carolina. The candidates are Christina Ruotolo of Greenville and Michelle Flye of New Bern. Both bring impressive resumes and diverse literary styles.

Flye has been a lover of poetry since first reading e.e. cummings in third grade. She feels that the best way to promote poetry is through classes with children. Flye has taught several poetry workshops for third, fourth and fifth graders at Epiphany School of Global Studies. Last summer, she published her first poetry booklet, “Times and Ties.” She is the owner of The Next Chapter Books & Art in New Bern, and often publishes poetry on her blog,

“Being an independent author myself, I am aware of the challenges that face any artist,” Flye said. “I’m happy to have a place where my own books have a home, and even happier to provide a place for other artists to bring their work.”

Fyle feels that her book store is the perfect vehicle in which to promote writing and writers.

Christina Ruotolo, perhaps known to many as the author of the Greenville Reflector food column “Hot Dishes” and the editor of Her Magazine, also came to the love of poetry in elementary school. As a second-grader she wrote her first poem about a blue whale pencil sharpener. In Christina’s words: “I remember going home and telling my mom I wanted to be a writer and poet. She must have thought this was important, because she saved this poem. It is currently framed and in 2008 when I published my first poetry book, I invited that second-grade teacher to attend. … Over the 30-plus years, when I need to decompress, I turn to poetry. I can shape the words and build upon the notes like a piece of sheet music until it sings its chorus to me. I play with the rhythm, emotion and feel of the words as I brush them across the page. Poetry is a gift that we are all given, and it should be cherished. Without poetry, I would have no voice, for poetry is the song of my heart and will continue to anchor me as a writer.”

Ms. Flye and Ms. Ruotolo will compete for the title of 2020 Heart of the Pamlico Poet Laureate and a cash award before a panel of three judges and a live audience on the evening of April 3 at the Historic Turnage Theatre in Washington. The competition begins at 6 p.m. It will kick off the annual writers’ conference, “Writers’ Blocks: Building your Vision.” The outgoing Heart of the Pamlico Poet Laureate, Malaika King Albrecht, will emcee the event, and the honor will be bestowed by North Carolina’s Poet Laureate, Jaki Shelton Green. For more information, please visit