By Connie Leinbach
Jaki Shelton Green talks in poetry, which would be expected from someone who is a much-lauded North Carolina poet.
Green and a group of six other women visited the island in March for their own women’s writers workshop “SistaWrite.”
Green, of Mebane, was the first Piedmont Poet Laureate, honored in 2009.
Inducted into the North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame last fall, she is a creativity coach, teacher and cultural activist.
“I believe you write from your life,” she said during an interview on WOVV 90.1 FM.
As a creativity coach, she helps people mine their deepest thoughts and feelings.
“We are all archeologists and anthropologists (of our lives),” she said. “Writing has been that tool for the dig.”
And Ocracoke was the perfect place to get away from the hurly-burly of urban life to unfurl creativity in the relative simplicity of the island.
“Ocracoke lifts a lot of veils when I’m here,” Green, who visits often, said, and “wilderness is essential to form.”
She was referring to the wintry island landscape—the “bones of these places, these trees, these houses, on the beach finding shells.”
As the ocean lives and beats, there is an ocean inside each of us, she said.
“Stories rush out of us like tsunamis,” she continued as she described the writing exercise of “protecting your magic,” for the group.
“Your magic is in there,” she said, “and if we’re not careful it gets eaten up.”
That afternoon, the writers were tasked with writing a poem about protecting their magic in “a story that covers a period of time using only three-word sentences.”
The following is Green’s example about riding the Swan Quarter ferry, and she credited one of the women, Lee Moore Crawford, with the title.
Mermaid radio calling
Mermaid radio calling.
Whispers from clouds.
Wailing ancient floorboards.
Another time crawling.
In this space.
From that place.
I offer prayers.
I offer food.
You bring stars.
You bring smoke.
We walk together.
Dance this dream.
Are we sisters.
Can you listen.
Will you come.
Birds follow us.
Ocean becomes ink.
Our feet parchment.
Our hair seaweed.
Who are you.
We become rice.
Fruit and cheese.
Eggs become prayer.
This place revisited.
This house renamed
Jaki Shelton Green