Kelly Starling Lyons, a Raleigh-based children’s literature writer, has been selected as the region’s 2021 Piedmont Laureate. During 2021, Starling Lyons will appear at virtual programming, including workshops, reading programs and speaking engagements, throughout Orange, Durham, and Wake 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 Orange County Arts Commission, City of Raleigh Arts Commission, Durham Arts Council, 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.
“Mrs. Starling Lyons’ heart work extends beyond her initial intent, and due to her humility and practicality, I’m not sure that she is even aware,” says Durham Public School Board Member Jovonia Lewis. “She is dedicated to creating opportunities for children to bring books to life, sparking an interest in reading and writing and serving her community through outreach and community projects for nothing more than exposure for those authors and for families.”
“We need more writers from traditionally under-represented backgrounds, and Kelly’s voice in this important movement for change has been powerful,” says former Piedmont Laureate (2013) John Claude Bemis. “I hope the writers, readers, educators, and artists in our rich Piedmont region have the opportunity to learn and take inspiration from Kelly Starling Lyons as our next Piedmont Laureate. Her efforts will undoubtedly make a lasting impact on our community.”
As Piedmont Laureate, Starling Lyons will receive an honorarium and serve until December 31st. Her duties will include presenting virtual programming which includes public readings and workshops, virtual participation at select public functions and creating at least one original activity to expand appreciation of the work of children’s literature.
A schedule of the Laureate’s 2021 activities will be posted on the sponsoring agency websites and on the Piedmont Laureate website at piedmontlaureate.org.
Kelly Starling Lyons has been a published children’s book author since 2004. Her 17 titles for children span easy readers, picture books, chapter books, fiction, nonfiction, and series. She has been creating inspiring books that center Black heroes, celebrate family, friendship and heritage and show all children the storyteller they hold inside. She is a founding member of The Brown Bookshelf, a collective of writers who promote awareness of the myriad Black voices writing for young readers. She has led numerous workshops at venues including Central Carolina Community College and Duke Continuing Education program, has participated in national, regional and local conference programs including ones for the American Association of School Librarians, North Carolina Library Association and National Council of Teachers of English and regularly does author visits to schools in Orange, Durham, and Wake counties and around the country.
For more information about the Piedmont Laureate program, visit piedmontlaureate.org.