Durham theater artist and podcaster Tamara Kissane has been named the 2020 Piedmont Laureate.

Sort of like a poet laureate, but open to all literary forms, the position is cosponsored by the City of Raleigh Arts Commission, the Durham Arts Council, the Orange County Arts Commission, and the United Arts Council of Raleigh & Wake County. It aims to “promote awareness and heighten appreciation for excellence in the literary arts throughout the Piedmont region.”

Kissane is already well known to readers of the INDY, for both her work as a playwright, director, and actor and as a local-arts podcaster and audio dramatist. This year, she’ll appear at workshops, readings, and speaking engagements throughout Wake, Durham, and Orange Counties. A schedule will be posted on the Piedmont Laureate website.

“It’s easy for me to lift up our regional playwrights because there’s so much talent here, and I am excited to encourage others to write,” Kissane told the INDY. “Writing has truly transformed my life. If others can experience even a little of that magic as playwrights or audience members, then I’ll be thrilled and satisfied. Experiencing a powerful script—whether it’s powerfully funny, gut-wrenching, or thought-provoking—is one of my greatest joys. I want to give people a taste of that joy and perhaps remind people who have forgotten.”

The Piedmont Laureate program focuses on a different form of writing each year. Kissane follows 2019 laureate David Menconi, who was The News & Observer’s longtime music reporter and critic. Prior laureates include mystery novelist Katy Munger, children’s author John Claude Bemis, and current state poet laureate Jaki Shelton Green.

Kissane will be officially sworn in at the North Carolina Museum of History on January 29 from 4:00–6:00 p.m. in a free, public ceremony.  

Contact arts and culture editor Brian Howe at bhowe@indyweek.com

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