Two writers from the region will appear before a panel of judges later this month to see who will become the 2021 recipient of the Heart of the Poet Pamlico. The Pamlico Writers’ Group is holding the contest at 4 p.m. on September 26 at Pamlico Books, 149 N. Market St., Washington, NC

Christina Ruotolo of Greenville and Michelle Flye of New Bern were named finalists after the group called for poets last year. The competition has been delayed due to coronavirus concerns. The winner will take home the title and a cash prize in front of a panel of three judges and a small live audience. The winner will succeed Malaika King Albrecht.

Albrect will be a tough act to follow, said Eileen Lettick, chair of the Poet Laureate Search Committee. “She has served us well and has given a lot to the East Carolina community of poets and our organization. It’s our luck to have found her. Pamlico’s writers are excited to see which of the two highly accomplished candidates will follow in Malaika’s footsteps. “

Flye is the owner of The Next Chapter Books & Art in New Bern and publishes poetry on his blog, She’s loved poetry since she first read ee cummings in third grade, she said. She has taught several poetry workshops at the Epiphany School of Global Studies and published her first poetry book, “Times and Ties,” in early 2020.

In November 2020, she wrote a graphic novel, “Hourglass”, and in April 2021, “Unsung: A Collection of Illustrated Poetry”. His 100 Warm Days of Haiku collection will be released soon.

“As a freelance writer myself, I am aware of the challenges that any artist faces,” said Flye. “I’m happy to have a place where my own books have a home, and even happier to provide a place for other artists to bring their work.”

Ruotolo is an advertising representative for The Daily Reflector, writes the restaurant advertising column for the newspaper, Hot Dish, and is the editor of Her Magazine. She is the author of the book of poetry “The Butterfly Net” and is the creator and co-author of the non-fiction book “The Day The Earth Moved Haiti”. She holds a BA in English Literature and Communication and an MA in Creative Non-Fiction from East Carolina University.

Her poetry and non-fiction have been published in Petigru Review, Reflections (Pamlico 2017 compilation) and other magazines and journals, and she has won numerous awards for her poetry and work with the newspaper.

“When I need to decompress, I turn to poetry,” Ruotolot said. “I can shape the words and build on the notes like a score until she sings her chorus to me.”

Due to COVID, the September 26 event will be limited to a small gathering; however, the program will be filmed for public viewing on the Pamlico Writers’ Group website. For more information, please visit

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