Chapel Hill Celebrates Poetry Month, Led by Poet Laureate

March 26, 2024

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The Town of Chapel Hill is launching a month-long celebration of National Poetry Month in April. Led by Chapel Hill Poet Laureate Cortland Gilliam, the Town offers a range of opportunities for all ages for the community to engage with poetry and art.

The festivities, organized by Chapel Hill Community Arts & Culture and Chapel Hill Public Library, aim to inspire and connect community through the power of poetry. Gilliam, who was appointed as the Town’s poet laureate in January 2023, brings his passion for activism and cultural organizing to the events. Highlights include:


Radical Imagining: A Youth Poetry Workshop

Chapel Hill Public Library | Saturday, April 20 | 2-3pm | ages 13-18 (registration required)This political education and poetry writing workshop strives to encourage an understanding of poetic expression as a vehicle for voice/action—for the imparting of perspective, the sharing of knowledge, the transmission of feeling, the disruption of power, the cultivation of community. Workshop participants will practice responding to social and political issues with poetry as a means of realizing their freedom dreams for a just and liberated world today.


“the poet is a verb” — Local Poet Showcase & Open Mic Night

Chapel Hill Public Library | Friday, April 26 | 6:30pm | all ages (free, refreshments provided)

Chapel Hill Poet Laureate Cortland Gilliam invites you to join the second installment of “the poet is a verb” for an evening of words that move, featuring a showcase of Triangle-area poets followed by a community open mic. Gilliam says the gathering “aims to illustrate an understanding of poetry as a community, relational practice that moves/activates us toward our collective humanity.” Featured poets include Dasan Ahanujames, and Jameela F. Dallis, Ph.D.


Black Out Poetry Display

Chapel Hill Public Library | April 1-30 | all ages

Participate in an interactive Blackout poetry display available now through the end of April on the main floor of the library. Blackout poetry is made by crossing out words, sentences, or paragraphs from found texts like newspaper or book pages, leaving behind words that form a poem. Using recycled library book pages, visitors can create their own poems, then share their work on the display for the community to see. Participants are encouraged to share their poems on social media.


In addition to these events, the community can engage with poetry in the following ways:

  • Writing Prompts and Inspiration from featured poets: Follow @chapelhillarts and @chapelhillpubliclibrary on Instagram for prompts, tips, and writing inspiration from local poets. Share your work for a chance to be featured.
  • Poetry Recommendations: Discover new poetry with recommendations from Chapel Hill Public Library and Poet Laureate Cortland Gilliam. Visit the library displays for both kids and adults throughout April. Pick up a limited-edition poetry month bookmark with Cortland’s picks at the library and around town.

For more information about the Chapel Hill Poet Laureate program, please visit To learn more about Chapel Hill Public Library, visit


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