Pamlico Writers’ Group chooses ‘Poet Laureate’

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First ever title goes to Malaika King Albrecht

Malaika King Albrecht

By Eileen Lettick

WASHINGTON, N.C. — Poets from all over eastern North Carolina walked through the doors of the Turnage Theatre on Saturday evening, Feb. 3. They were there to cheer for the inaugural set of ‘Heart of the Pamlico Poet Laureate’ finalists: Deborah Doolittle and Malaika King Albrecht.

After delivering a brief overview and history of the event and the application process, Eileen Lettick, chair of the group’s search committee, handed the stage over to poet Marty Silverthorne.

Originally among the finalists, Silverthorne withdrew from the competition earlier in the week, citing health issues. He subsequently accepted an invitation to read in an honorary capacity before the competition began.


Malaika and Deborah then took the stage to convince the audience and the three judges — John Hoppenthaler, Phillip Shabazz, and Luke Whisnant — that they were worthy of the title. The two women told the stories of their lives through their poetry and then answered questions from the judges.

After the judges conferred, they reached a difficult decision – Malaika would be this year’s winner!

An award-winning poet and the founding editor of an online poetry magazine, Redheaded Stepchild, Malaika is herself a spunky redhead! She won the judges over with her energy and her forward-thinking, collaborative ideas. Interested in educating our youth with offering them authentic writing experiences, she wishes to partner with poets of all races and backgrounds to add more cultural diversity to the experiences children and young adults encounter.

In addition to her past and varied experiences with youth, Malaika has been able to combine her passion of poetry with her work in assisting victims of sexual abuse. Currently she offers workshops as fundraisers for the nonprofit where she works.

A reception and music followed the judging in the Turnage Gallery. The event was open to the public.