Highly acclaimed Durham County novelist Zelda Lockhart has been selected as
the region’s 2010 Piedmont Laureate.
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, Alamance County Arts Council, Durham Arts Council,
Johnston County Arts Council, Orange County Arts Commission, and United Arts
Council of Raleigh & Wake County, the program’s key goal is to: “promote awareness
and heighten appreciation for excellence in the literary arts throughout the Piedmont
“The Piedmont Laureate program provides an important opportunity for residents
in the Triangle area to connect with and learn about their strong literary heritage and the
influence this area plays in the state’s literary landscape,” said Mary B. Regan, Executive
Director of the North Carolina Arts Council.
Ms. Lockhart is the author of Fifth Born, which was a 2002 Barnes & Noble
Discovery selection and won a finalist award for debut fiction from the Zora Neale
Hurston/Richard Wright Legacy Foundation. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in English
from Norfolk State University, a Master’s in English from Old Dominion University, and
a certificate in writing, directing and editing film from the New York Film Academy. In
2007, Lockhart’s second novel, Cold Running Creek, was published, winning a 2008
Honor Fiction Award from the Black Caucus of the American Library Association. In
June 2010, Ms. Lockhart’s third novel, Fifth Born II: The Hundredth Turtle, will be
published. Her other works of fiction, poetry and essays can be found in anthologies,
journals and magazines.
“I am honored and excited to sharing my passion for literature…with the
Piedmont community,” Ms. Lockhart stated. “During my tenure as Laureate, I plan to
design and participate in programs that will help individuals self-define through the
experience of literature…. I look forward to the many new people I am bound to meet
and share precious time with over the next year,” she added.
In her letter of support for Ms. Lockhart’s laureate application, well-known writer
Dorothy Allison wrote: “Zelda has a strong commitment to beautiful and unique
language. She gives us an unflinching view of the human spirit…. Her people read to me
as real – fully rendered and difficult as any I have made myself. She is also an inspired
and inspiring speaker, and I know she would serve eloquently as a laureate.”
For being named the Piedmont Laureate, Ms. Lockhart will receive an
honorarium of $7,000 and serve for one year. Her duties will include presenting public
readings and workshops, participating at select public functions, and creating at least one
original activity to expand appreciation of literature. A schedule of the Laureate’s 2010
activities will be posted in January on the sponsoring agencies websites and at the
Piedmont Laureate website (www.piedmontlaureate.com).
Applications for the laureate position were received from a five-county area. A
selection committee comprised of recognized authors John Kessel, (well-known science
fiction author and faculty member at NC State University) and Susie Powell, along with
sponsoring agency representatives, reviewed all the applications and made
recommendations. Banu Valladares, Acting Literary Director of the North Carolina Arts
Council, served as the panel observer.
“We are excited to have a program that recognizes the achievement of North
Carolina writers across genres and that fosters a love of writing and reading in the state.
Zelda Lockhart is talented and her work is rich and spellbinding. That, along with her
commitments to her craft and to helping others find expression in writing makes her the
ideal candidate for the Piedmont Laureate post,” Ms. Valladares stated.
For more information about the Piedmont Laureate program, visit
www.piedmontlaureate.com or contact June Guralnick, executive director of the City of
Raleigh Arts Commission, at june.guralnick[at]ci.raleigh.nc.us or call (919) 996-3610.