10 Ways to Celebrate National Poetry Month in the Triangle

North Carolina’s poetry roots run deep. Here’s how to connect with acclaimed writers like Lenard D. Moore, Shelby Stephenson, and Jaki Shelton Green in April.
by Emily Gajda

April is National Poetry Month, and the Triangle is a great place to celebrate literature, thanks to our lively arts and literary scene. Poetry has incredible power to shift and shape our perspectives on the world around us while spring finds it way over our landscape. These events and activities are sure to help you get in touch with your bookish side — and the roots of our great and complex state.

Hear Words Unspoken at GPAC

In celebration of National Poetry Month, the Town of Garner Performing Arts Center is hosting some of the Triangle’s talented writers, educators, poets, and speakers for an intimate evening of readings and recitals.  

April 7 | 7 p.m.; free; 742 W. Garner Road, Garner; visitraleigh.com

See Jeffery Beam present Verdant with David Need

Hillsborough-based poet Jeffery Beam will be signing copies and talking about his newest book, Verdant, with retired Duke professor David Need at Chapel Hill’s Flyleaf Books. Featuring poems and a mini-essay, the work follows a poet-lover through heartbreak and regret, all leading up to an enraptured reunion. The signing line begins at 5:30 p.m. and priority seating will be given to guests who purchase their own copy of the book. 

April 8 | 6 p.m.; free; 752 Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, Chapel Hill; flyleafbooks.com

Head to Lanza’s Cafe Poetry Jam

Stop by Lanza’s Cafe in Carrboro with your journal or favorite poem for their poetry jam, held on the second Friday of each month. Heads up, though — the jam was moved to the third Friday this month due to a scheduling conflict. Surrounded by the charm of an artistic and inviting town, reading and hearing poetry at Lanza’s feels like you are in your own living room — with no pressure for perfection, a group of fellow literature lovers, plus great coffee and pastries.

April 15 | 6:30 – 8 p.m.; Free; 601 W. Main Street, Carrboro; eventbrite.com 

Contemplate Poems by Robert Frost

George Lensing, the Mann Family Distinguished Professor of English Emeritus at UNC, will be conducting an in-depth discussion of Robert Frost’s work at independent Chapel Hill bookseller, Flyleaf Books. Participation is limited to 16 people due to space constraints, so reserve your spot early and make sure you leave time to look around the shop’s extensive collection of new and used books.

April 19 & 26 | 10 a.m. – 12 p.m; free; 752 Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, Chapel Hill; humanities.unc.edu

Go to Arts on the Hill at Dix Park

As a part of the Play on Words series, Arts on the Hill will hold an event in Dix Park showcasing local writers and films with North Carolina roots, allowing these up-and-coming artists space to develop their work. Doors will open at the Chapel Event Center an hour before the event begins.

April 21 | 6:30 – 8:30 p.m.; free; 1030 Richardson Drive; dorotheadixpark.org 

Write it Out in Clayton

The National Endowment for the Arts and the Johnston County Writers Group are holding the final workshop of their Write It Out series. This event will focus on reading, reflecting, and writing on prompts from Sandra Cisneros’ The House on Mango Street of which every participant will receive a copy. It will be led by Benson poet Teresa Blackmon and Clayton poet Leslie Waugh.

April 23 | 10 a.m. – 12 p.m.; free; 100 S. Church Street, Clayton ; eventbrite.com

Hear North Carolina Poets on 9/11 & Its Aftermath

The North Carolina Poet Laureate and North Carolina Museum of Art poet-in-residence, Jaki Shelton Green, along with the editors of the poetry anthology Crossing the Rift: North Carolina Poets on 9/11 and Its Aftermath, will be hosting a reading of poetry from the collection. Register now to spend an evening in the East Building and hear from poets featured in the collection

April 28 | 7 – 8:30 p.m.; Free; 2110 Blue Ridge Road; ncartmuseum.org

Contemplate Public Murals

Especially during the month of April, the temperate weekends offer chances to roam and discover the beautiful murals across downtown Raleigh. Grab an iced coffee from one of our favorite spots, and let Leah’s Finch’s poetry guide you toward moments of introspection and outward reflection.

Explore North Carolina’s Poetic Roots with these Books

North Carolina is home to many acclaimed poets, and they all have unique perspectives to offer when it comes to the Old North State. Stop by Raleigh’s Quail Ridge Books or Southern Pines’ Country Bookshop and pick up previous NC Poet Laureate Shelby Stephenson’s Shelby’s Lady: The Hog Poems for a look into the taxing and often grotesque work that goes into pig farming, a way of life that is quickly disappearing in North Carolina. Or pick up Cave Canem Fellow, Whiting Writers Award recipient, and current UNC Teaching Assistant Professor Tyree Daye’s Cardinal, which explores the inner workings of his Black male protagonist’s mind as he leaves and returns to the complex place that is the American South. Check out the rest of the 10 books we rounded up to help you navigate our state’s incredible literary scene. 

Read up-and-coming poet Blaine Purcell’s “Love Letter to Grass” in our April issue

Blaine Purcell is a 20-year-old student of creative writing at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. They hope to pursue a Master of Fine Arts, publish books, and teach poetry upon their graduation. Their poem “Love Letter to Grass” is a perfect read for a moment with the sun on your shoulders and loved ones nearby. Print a version from our site, or grab a copy of our April 2022 issue at any of these locations for an optimal picnic blanket reading experience.