Arts & Culture

Best Local Poets In Charlotte

November 18, 2013 7:00 AM

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Many well-known poets, of both the “page” and “stage” varieties, make their homes in Charlotte. “Page” poets publish their poems in poetry journals, books and chapbooks, competing for literary prizes. “Stage” poets present their poetry in front of an audience, often at a poetry “slam” like those made popular by the HBO series “Def Poetry.” One of Charlotte’s home-grown poets, Terry Creech, appeared on an early season of the series, and brought the slam poetry movement to Charlotte. He founded a local slam team that went on to win national awards, and today coaches the Charlotte Youth Poetry Slam Team. Charlotte has connections to many famous “page” poets as well, including Cathy Smith Bowers, NC Poet Laureate from 2010 to 2012, who for many years was poet-in-residence at Charlotte’s Queens University, and continues to teach in its low-residency MFA program.
Jessie Carty

A graduate of the Queens MFA program and author of six collections of poetry, Carty currently teaches in UNC-Charlotte’s First-Year Writing Program. Her 2012 chapter book “An Amateur Marriage” was a finalist for the Robert Watson Prize. Carty’s poems appear in a number of print and web magazines including the local Iodine Poetry Journal, Main Street Rag, Bear Creek Haiku, Margie, decomP and Connotation Press. She is the founding editor of Referential, another local poetry journal.
Jaycee Cowan

Cowan heads the slam poetry group known as Touch One Productions, which has presented a popular Thursday night spoken word showcase at NoDa’s UpStage (formerly Wine Up) for over 10 years. A U.S. Army veteran and barber by day, Cowan is well known to Charlotte audiences, thanks to his stints on local radio shows. He spends his spare time working with students in local schools helping them develop their spoken word skills.

Related: Best Poetry Events In Charlotte

Rebecca McClanahan

Currently an instructor in the MFA programs in poetry and creative non-fiction at Queens University, McClanahan has authored four books of poetry to date, and received the prestigious Wood Prize from Poetry Magazine. Her essays and nonfiction are also award winning, including “The Riddle Songs and Other Rememberings,” winner of the 2005 Glasgow Prize in nonfiction. She also wrote two highly regarded books of guidance for writers,”Word Painting: A Guide to Writing More Descriptively” and “Write Your Heart Out,” and is a featured speaker at many workshops for writers. McClanahan spent 15 years as poet-in-residence of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school system, where she helped thousands of young poets find their voices.
Boris “Bluz” Rogers

Slammaster Bluz heads up SlamCharlotte, the local poetry slam that sent championship teams to the National Poetry Slam in 2007 and 2008. Held monthly at the Booth Theater in the Blumenthal Performing Arts Center, this slam qualifies winners for the Individual World Poetry Slam and the Women of the World Poetry Slam as well as the Grand Slam national team finals. Bluz, also known as Boris Rogers, has been Slammaster for the SlamCharlotte teams since 2006, and ranked 13th in the world at the individual poetry championships in 2007.
Chuck Sullivan

The author of seven books of poetry, Sullivan has had his work appear in numerous publications including Rolling Stone, Esquire, Texas Quarterly, Southern Poetry Review, Carolina Quarterly and the International Poetry Review. His book, “A Catechism of Hearts,” won an award as South Carolina’s Best Poetry Book of the year, and another “Longing for the Harmonies” received the North Carolina Poetry Council’s best book award. Sullivan is well-known in Charlotte as one of the founders of the Moving Poets, a unique theater group that combines dance and the spoken word. He composed the text of their best known productions, including “Dracula” and “Romeo and Juliet.”

Related: Best Local Authors In Charlotte

With 15 years of experience covering restaurants in Charlotte and the Carolinas, and two regional guidebooks under her belt, Renee Wright examines the dining scene with enthusiasm plus a deep knowledge of food trends and outstanding local eating ops. Her work can be found at

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