Jaki Shelton Green

The Office for Regional Initiatives at UNC Pembroke invites high school students in the UNCP service area — Bladen, Columbus, Cumberland, Hoke, Montgomery, Moore, Richmond, Robeson and Scotland counties — to take part in the second Literary ChangeMakers eSummit Saturday, April 17, from 1 to 3:30 p.m. 

The fully online summit will connect poets and high school-aged youth from across southeastern North Carolina to learn more about the spoken word, the poet as activist and cooperative organizational networks.

During the eSummit, NC Poet Laureate Jaki Shelton Green will give keynote remarks on the importance of young people’s creativit;, poet Tonya Elk Locklear will lead a creative writing workshop; and participants will have the chance to share their creative work with others. 

To register, visit After registering, participants will receive a meeting invitation from Zoom, where the eSummit will be hosted. The poetry and creative writing workshops are free. The registration deadline is April 14. 

The Literary ChangeMakers Project, generously funded by the Academy of American Poets and the North Carolina Arts Council, is an initiative that expands youth literary arts programs and creates a statewide project model to inform the programming and grant-making efforts of local arts councils, educational foundations, philanthropists, the N.C. Arts Council and the state Poet Laureate. 

Championed by Shelton Green in her role as state poet laureate, Literary Changemakers identifies powerful youth poets who are engaged artistically in civic and community activism, social justice and youth leadership roles that are vital to transforming the meaning of their lives. 

“I recognize the unique point of view and continuity of storytelling represented in the music, poetry, dance, fashion, and documentary films of youth, and that these youth art forms deserve their own platforms,” Shelton Green says. “Connecting with North Carolina’s youth fits beautifully with my mission of impacting statewide communities through poetry — documentation of their local stories.” 

During the inaugural eSummit, in September 2020, youth poets and creative writers from Ocracoke, Raleigh and Wilmington took part in creative writing workshops with Shelton Green and Chapel Hill Poet Laureate C.J. Suitt, composed and presented their own work, and enjoyed a special performance by recording artist Lakota John. 

“I feel it is important for our youth to engage in creative arts by exploring and discovering their own creative voices,” Elk Locklear says. “Youth are the light keepers who need to dream outside the box, inspire others and believe in themselves. They are the Literary ChangeMakers of tomorrow.” 

Shelton Green and the Office for Regional Initiatives are excited to collaborate on efforts that provide culturally enriching programming to young people in the region UNCP serves. 

“We are committed to empowering young people in our communities through our youth enrichment programs,” says Mary Beth Locklear, director of the Office for Regional Initiatives. “Literary ChangeMakers provides an opportunity for students to gain the experience and confidence to be change agents in their communities, state and nation.”

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