North Carolina-NC Poet Laureate-December 2


North Carolina People, Places, and Things-December 2

I am the dad to five adult children. As they were growing up I attempted to remind them they were special and to implore them to learn something new. My goal was to do that daily.

In 2016 my goal is to learn something new daily on the people, places, and things that make North Carolina special. Everyday this year I am doing a post on what I have learned new.

Today Dr. Shelby Stephenson serves as the State of North Carolina’s Poet Laureate. Photo below is of him with his wife Linda. He is professor emeritus from UNC Pembroke.

shelbyandlinda

I wrote about Shelby in a previous post back in February 2015 (link found below) but I never knew who the state’s first Poet Laureate was. I went searching.

https://coach4aday.wordpress.com/2015/02/02/a-friend-of-a-friend-shelby-stephenson-mark-canada-february-3/

On November 28, 1948, Arthur Talmage Abernethy was appointed as North Carolina’s first Poet Laureate, just before the end of Governor R. Gregg Cherry’s term of office.

poet laureate.png

Abernethy’s term was to expire with the end of Cherry’s term.  Abernethy was therefore officially Poet Laureate for only a few weeks, from November 28, 1948 through January 5, 1949.  However, because Governor Kerr Scott did not appoint a successor, Abernethy remained the designated Poet Laureate until August 1953, when Governor William Umstead appointed James Larkin Pearson to the post.

The above two paragraphs there are highlighted links to some of North Carolina Historical Markers related to Poet Laureate.

Abernethy’s career included time as a professor and a journalist, and he also served as a Magistrate and Justice of the Peace, frequently filing his annual reports in verse. He also found time to write more than 50 books and thousands of poems.  The books covered history, southern folklore, and evangelical subjects. Surprisingly, history records none of his poetry published in book form.

North Carolina has had seven Poets Laureate.  Writer and UNC Pembroke professor Shelby Stephenson  was named to the position in September 2014, succeeding Cathy Smith Bowers.

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