GREENSBORO — Biscuitville served poetry with breakfast on Monday when N.C. Poet Laureate Jaki Shelton Green and N.C. A&T students shared their art with customers.
“Good morning, biscuit lovers!” Green, the state’s first African American female to hold the poet laureate post, greeted diners at the 2215 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive restaurant.
As customers recorded on their cell phones, Green read from her books of poetry, “breath of a song” and “i want to undie you,” the latter about her daughter Imani’s death from cancer at age 37.
Green then recorded on her cell phone as Ebony Hagans-Greene, A&T’s poet laureate, read her work. A&T students Tatiana Francis and Rin Faith followed.
“To share the stage with her is monumental,” Hagans-Greene said of the state’s poet laureate.
The event marked Black History Month.
Customers applauded each poet.
Customer Tim Smith first met Green last month at the Greensboro Public Library. When he learned that she would be at Biscuitville, he invited cousin Francine Scott and friend Willie Ferguson to attend. They all were glad that they did.
“She is an amazing lady, and her poetry exemplifies that,” Smith said. “It touched me. It reached me.”
A native of Orange County who now lives in Mebane, Green was appointed as the state’s poet laureate last year by Gov. Roy Cooper.
“The reception across the state has been really wonderful,” she said in an interview. “People are full of pride. It’s a very celebratory moment, not just for me but for many people, for a lot of women, for a lot of people of color and for the literary community.”
Green, who teaches documentary poetry at Duke University, was glad to share her art at Biscuitville.
“I believe in art in unusual places,” she said. “But more importantly, I believe in the everydayness of how art shows up in our lives.”
“I travel all over the world and I speak at universities and museums,” she said. “But this is where the everyday people are, who may not think about their stories being of value or their stories being worthy.”
Green said she also was honored to share the bill with A&T student poets, as they were with her.
“As a seasoned writer, it gives me hope and I feel very comfortable… that new voices are emerging every day,” she said. “There is enough space at the table for all the new voices that are coming.”
Contact Dawn DeCwikiel-Kane at 336-373-5204 and follow @dawndkaneNR on Twitter.