You don’t have to be an English major to enjoy poetry, according to Rock Hill’s first Poet Laureate, Amber Shockley. Rather, it’s for the whole community and can be engaging and healing.
The Poet Laureate position was created by the Rock Hill City Council last fall at the urging of Rock Hill Mayor John Gettys. A selection committee led the search, with Shockley named in March – just in time for National Poetry Month in April.
She plans to create an awareness of poetry and literacy through public events and readings and especially wants to reach out to folks who are disenfranchised and hurting.
"I can't remember ever not being interested in poetry. The right poem, at the right moment, can comfort, encourage or correct you like a best friend," she said. "I write hoping that my poem makes such a connection with someone that it nearly scares them half to death, or makes them fall off their seat laughing."
Shockley has had numerous poems published in more than 10 publications. A former English teacher, she has a bachelor’s degree in English from Winthrop University and a master’s in fine arts from Queen’s University in Charlotte. She attended the Master of Arts program at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte and has worked as a freelance editor, video producer and social media liaison.
Shockley recently helped the Women’s Art Initiative stencil Haiku on downtown sidewalks, a WAI project created, in part, to celebrate her appointment as poet laureate.
Poet Laureate, Amber Shockley, with selection committee.