NC poets laureate hope to meet with governor

The Associated Press

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RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina's four previous poets laureate offered Thursday to meet with the governor about the process used to select the most recent person to hold the high-profile post, who has self-published two books of poetry.

"We appreciate his willingness to look into the process," outgoing poet laureate Joseph Bathanti said. "And we would welcome an opportunity to sit and talk about what poets laureate have done historically in this state for its citizens, not just for other poets."

At a news conference Wednesday, Gov. Pat McCrory said he would review the process used to select Valerie Macon of Fuquay-Varina as poet laureate. His staff, he said, recommended poets, and he selected from among those people. Macon is a disability examiner for the state whose poems reflect her interest in helping the homeless.

In choosing Macon, he bypassed the traditional process in which the North Carolina Arts Council recommended poets to the governor, who then chose the poet laureate. However, the governor has the prerogative to choose the poet laureate on his own.

A spokesman for McCrory said a meeting with the four poets laureate could be part of the review if they request the meeting formally.

Also Thursday, Bathanti and the three writers who were poets laureate before him — Fred Chappell, Kathryn Stripling Byer and Cathy Smith Bowers — issued a statement criticizing the process used by the governor.

"Instituted and administered expertly and transparently by the North Carolina Arts Council — which has our unqualified support and loyalty — the process insured that the poet laureate, ultimately appointed by the governor, was indeed a poet and educator of singular accomplishment, someone not only with a literary reputation in North Carolina, but beyond," their statement said. "The fact that that process was not recognized in the most recent appointment has resulted in disaster."


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