As part of the 2020 Dear Poet project, students around the country and the world wrote letters to Jaki Shelton Green in response to a video of her reading her poem “i know the grandmother one had hands” aloud. Jaki Shelton Green wrote letters back to six of these students; their letters and her replies are included below.

Jaki Shelton Green also wrote a response to all of the participants of this year's Dear Poet project.

Dear Poetry Lovers!

Thank you all for your amazing letters. I am truly touched that you made time to communicate with me about my poetry.

It is such a challenging time for all of us. I am so grateful for the tremendous ability of all the arts to help us reach across so many real and imaginary boundaries to share our stories and celebrate our unique voices. 

I can tell that you are all serious thinkers, researchers, and care deeply about the power of language and the literary arts. I encourage you to bring poetry alive!

I encourage you:

To start a Zoom Reading Festival or Spoken Word Fest with your friends, classmates, or family.

Choose a different poet from a different country each month to read and discuss.

Translate a poem from another language and think about how we are impacted when we experience words that are foreign to our ears.

Reach out to schools in other states and find poetry buddies who might want to just kick around poems online.

Create your own YouTube poetry videos .

Be well and be happy! 
Jaki Shelton Green
North Carolina Poet Laureate