Steven Petrow, a Hillsborough-based creative non-fiction writer, has been selected as the region’s 2024 Piedmont Laureate. During 2024, Petrow will appear at virtual and in-person programming, including workshops, reading programs and speaking engagements throughout Wake, Durham and Orange counties.
The Piedmont Laureate program is dedicated to building a literary bridge for residents to come together and celebrate the art of writing. Co-sponsored by the City of Raleigh Arts Commission, Durham Arts Council, Orange County Arts Commission and United Arts Council of Raleigh & Wake County, the Piedmont Laureate program’s mission is to “promote awareness and heighten appreciation for excellence in the literary arts throughout the Piedmont region.”
The program focuses on a different literary form each year, including poetry, novels, creative non-fiction, drama/screenwriting, children’s literature, short fiction, speculative fiction, and mystery fiction.
“Steven Petrow is the quintessential creative nonfiction writer, mentor, teacher, advocate, biographer, and community builder who speaks the language of the heart for so many of us,” says Jaki Shelton Greene, 2009 Piedmont Laureate and current NC Poet Laureate. “His artistic genius and warm personality have proven to be the backbone for his successful career and innovations in creative nonfiction that repeatedly serve to promote, engage, enrich and sustain the diversity of human stories, experiences, and connections.”
“Whether on the page or in person, Steven is engaging, wise but not at all preachy, encouraging but never heavy-handed,” says Elizabeth Woodman, Editor of 27 Views Podcast, Eno Publishers. “I always come away from his work or presentations feeling more enlightened about myself and the world around me—whether it’s research about a new treatment for depression, giving up double-spacing between sentences on my computer, or baking the perfect pecan pie.”
“I am a zealot for our bookstores, libraries, actually anywhere where people gather to read,” says Petrow. “Reading and writing help us to develop empathy for those unlike ourselves, as well as connection and community. These are such powerful concepts—and so needed in these deeply divided times.”
As Piedmont Laureate, Petrow will receive an honorarium and serve until Dec. 31. His duties will include presenting programming which includes public readings and workshops, participation at select public functions and creating at least one original activity to expand appreciation of the work of creative nonfiction.
A schedule of the Laureate’s 2024 activities will be posted on the sponsoring agency websites and on the Piedmont Laureate website at www.piedmontlaureate.org.
About Steven Petrow
Steven Petrow is an award-winning journalist and best-selling book author who is best known for his Washington Post and New York Times essays on LGBTQ life, health, and civility. He’s a contributing columnist to The Washington Post and an opinion columnist for USA Today, where he writes about civil discourse and manners. His TED Talk, “3 Ways to Practice Civility” has been viewed nearly two million times and translated into 16 languages. Petrow’s most recent book is Stupid Things I Won’t Do When I Get Old, and was named a New York Times favorite in 2021. His next book, Joy to You and Me will be published by Penguin Random House in the fall of 2024.
A former president of NLGJA: The Association of LGBTQ Journalists, Steven is the recipient of numerous awards and grants, including those from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Smithsonian Institution, the Ucross Foundation, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and the National Press Foundation. In 2017, he became the named sponsor of the Steven Petrow and Julie Petrow-Cohen LGBTQ+ Fellowship at the VCCA, a prize that is awarded annually.