Gilbert-Chappell Poetry Reading

Featuring Melinda Thomsen and 4 Emerging NC Poets

Location: R.A. Fountain

This special event–sponsored by the North Carolina Poetry Society–is a celebration of National Poetry Month and Melinda Thomsen’s being named the 2023 Gilbert-Chappell Distinguished Poet. She’ll be joined by four emerging poets: Marty Pitcairn, from New Bern; Ellie Lorenz, a middle school student from Wilmington;  and  high school students Jess Wallace, from Sofia, and Justin Wellons, fom Hallsboro.

Melinda Thomsen lives in Greenville with her husband, two cats, and a chicken. Her poetry collection Armature, recently published by Hermit Feathers Press, has already been named Honorable Mention in the Lena Shull Poetry Contest from the North Carolina Poetry Society. It also received  Eric Hoffer’s da Vinci Eye Award for cover art and content.  Finishing Line Press published her two chapbooks, “Naming Rights” (2008) and “Field Rations” (2011).  Her poetry and book reviews have appeared in journals such as Poetry East, Big City Lit, New York Quarterly, Tar River Poetry, Rattle, and the North Carolina Literary Review.  She’s also received a 2019 Pushcart Nomination from the Comstock Review, 1st place in the 2019 Robert Golden Poetry Contest, and and was a semi-finalist in the 2004 “Discovery” / The Nation Poetry Contest.  She has an MA from the City College, NY, and an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts. 

Marty Pitcairn, a retired school psychologist from New Bern, initially chose to study psychology at East Carolina University in hopes of enriching the characters she created in children’s literature. An advanced degree and career later, she has returned to her passion for writing poetry. She also enjoys traveling, photography, and teaching her two Bengal cats to do tricks.

Ellie Lorenz, who has recently discovered her passion for writing, attends St. Mary Catholic School in Wilmington. She also enjoys art, running, and cooking. Ellie possesses a strong sense of self, empathy, creativity, determination, intelligence, and the ability to see the world through a large lens, and she has always strived to make the world a better place.

Jess Wallace who lives in “the middle of nowhere,” a.k.a. Sophia, in rural Randolph County, enjoys playing video games in her dark room with a phone devoid of notifications. Acceptance into the Gilbert-Chappell
Emerging Writers Mentorship Program is her first achievement outside of her Xbox.

Justin Wellons started writing lyrics to songs when he was 13 to cope with his feelings of being seen as an outcast. At 14, he won third place and two honorable mentions in the AR. Ammons Poetry Contest. Ammons and Wellons share Columbus County as their home country. In high school, he attended workshops. Jaki Shelton Greene that rekindled a love he had once forgotten and he started writing once again. After a few more workshops, he was named the first Student Poet Laureate of East Columbus High School in a program designed to bring poetry into schools. He continued to write poetry and join workshops to better improve his work, creating the “The Young Poet Society” a place where people could find a love to write poetry just as he has done, without fear of being judged or ridiculed for their emotions.

Read Kesha Williams’ article about this and other Poetry Month events originally published in the Daily Reflector April 15, 2023. 

Prior to the reading, from 2-4 p.m., the Smith-Yelverton Typewriter Museum will be open, next door to RAF, with a large selection of reasonably priced books of classic and contemporary poetry.

Tags: literary, poetry reading