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The Daily Tar Heel

Writer Carrie Knowles chosen as Piedmont Laureate

Freelance writer, arts advocate and writing coach Carrie Knowles  will add the Piedmont Laureate title to her list of literary accomplishments, which span 45 years. 

The Piedmont Laureate program, developed six years ago by the Durham Arts Council,  chooses one creative writer within the community to be named a representative of literature throughout the Piedmont area, which consists of Alamance, Durham, Wake and Orange counties.

Martha Shannon,  director of the Orange County Arts Commission,  said the program was mainly created to highlight the achievements of writers within the community, as well as to encourage people to try their hands at writing.

“We created this program six years ago to foster and promote awareness and heighten appreciation for excellence in the literary arts throughout the Triangle area,” she said.

“(The laureates) are all very creative and they are all very interested in working with the community and in getting people involved who may not necessarily consider themselves to be writers.”

Past laureates have specialized in different literary genres, including novel writing, poetry, creative nonfiction and playwriting. Knowles was chosen to represent this year’s genre, short fiction, due to her expansive resume, which includes dozens of short stories and three books. One of her books, “Ashoan’s Rug,” is a novel comprised of 10 short stories that link together in plot.

“I think everyone has a story in them to tell,” Knowles said.

Knowles said she also believes that writing can become an important asset to increase one’s creativity and imagination.

“Writing is such a solitary type of life. To have a public position about writing is a rare and exciting opportunity. Except for doing book signings or whatever, you’re not that public about your work,” she said.

“This is a great opportunity to come out of my shell and share my passion of writing with other people, and get other people to write as well and to think about themselves as a creative person and that they can do this”.

As laureate, Knowles is required to conduct public readings and workshops geared towards educating others about the importance of short fiction. 

She will speak in each of the four counties, making appearances in libraries and town councils. Her program, “1,001 Arabian Coffee Days and Nights” involves organizing events in cafes and restaurants in order to get people to write their own short story within a span of half an hour.

“I think there is a real power in people being in a room with everybody else doing the same thing. It’s kind of exciting to be in a different environment and try your hands at something new,” she said.

Chris Lange, program director for the Alamance County Arts Council , said Knowles’ creativity and dedication to writing have now put her in the fortunate position to assist others in their lives.

“She feels that everybody kind of has their own story to tell and she is pretty encouraging in that sense to other writers,” Lange said.

“I think that people can learn — in the realm of literature — that it’s a process and that we all kind of have our own story to tell, and that might range from someone’s past or something made up. I think she has a lot to offer for a wide variety of different people.”

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