Jaki Shelton Green with Peter Vankevich and Kerry Holjes. Photo by C. Leinbach

 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.

Jaki Shelton Green 2015-03-13 09.54.41
Jaki Shelton Green is a special guest on WOVV, Ocracoke’s community radio station. Photo: P. Vankevich

“I believe you write from your life,” she said during an interview on WOVV 90.1 FM.

She explores the commonal­ity in all of us of what it is to be human.

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.

Visiting writers. From left, Mel Bramble, Addy McCulloch, Lee Moore Crawford and Melissa Hassard. Photo by C. Leinbach
Visiting writers. From left, Mel Bramble, Addy McCulloch, Lee Moore Crawford and Melissa Hassard. Photo by C. Leinbach

“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

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  1. I am so proud of Jaki the Great! I taught her at George School Pa high school,and delight with glee in her flowering word-blossoms!
    Lee Bailey

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