The Piedmont Laureate program, co-sponsored by the Alamance Arts Council, City of Raleigh Arts Commission, Durham Arts Council, Orange County Arts Commission, and United Arts Council of Raleigh & Wake County, has as its primary goal: “to promote awareness and heighten appreciation for excellence in the literary arts in the Piedmont region.” The program is dedicated to building a literary bridge for residents to come together and celebrate the art of writing, enriching the lives of all our citizens.


The Piedmont Laureate will be appointed for one year and offer the following activities in Alamance, Wake, Durham, and Orange counties:

  • Present readings at designated public sites (libraries, arts centers, schools, universities, and other community gathering places);
  • Encourage creative writing for all age groups (by offering workshops or other types of outreach);
  • Promote literature at select public events;
  • Bring attention to literature in less traditional settings; and
  • Propose original activities to expand appreciation of the literary arts.

The Piedmont Laureate will be selected by a committee appointed by the sponsoring agencies. Each year the program will be open to writers creating work in a particular selected literary genre (poetry, novels, plays, etc.). The application process is open to all writers residing in Alamance, Wake, Durham, or Orange counties who meet the guideline criteria. The program guidelines and application form are available on the Piedmont Laureate website: Upon review of all applications, the finalist(s) will be invited to meet with the committee. Announcement of the candidate selected will be made in November, and the Piedmont Laureate appointment will run from January – December of the following year.


Carrie Knowles / Raleigh, NC

Eight years ago, Carrie Knowles bought a small office building at the southernmost edge of Historic Oakwood in Downtown Raleigh. She named the building the Free Range Studio and inscribed this on the wall: Creativity should have no boundaries and dreams no fences. “That’s how I see the world,” Knowles says, “and the way I hope to live my life as a creative person.” The Free Range Studio has provided office space to a wide range of writers and other creative people over the last eight years, including Carrie’s close friend and fellow author, Peggy Payne. Both Peggy and Carrie not only have their offices at Free Range, but also coach other writers and teach classes there.

Carrie has been a freelance writer and arts advocate and organizer for the last 45 years. As a freelance writer she published dozens of short stories and hundreds of newspaper and magazine articles. Twenty years ago, she was the restaurant critic for the News and Observer. She has also written three books: a memoir called The Last Childhood: A Family Story of Alzheimer's (Three Rivers Press, 2000) and two novels, Lillian’s Garden (Roundfire Books, 2013) and Ashoan’s Rug, (Roundfire Books, 2013).

Carrie’s short stories have won numerous awards, including the Village Advocate Fiction Contest, the Blumenthal Writers & Readers Series, the North Carolina Writer’s Network Fiction Syndication and Glimmer Train’s Very Short Fiction Competition. Twice she has been named a finalist in other Glimmer Train competitions, and she was a finalist in the Doris Betts Fiction Contest and received an honorable mention in the National Literary Awards. In 1994, she was awarded a North Carolina Arts Council Creative Nonfiction Grant to complete the work on her memoir, The Last Childhood: A Family Story of Alzheimer’s. This memoir has been noted as one of the top 100 books written about Alzheimer’s.

As an arts advocate she has been a board member for the Symphony Orchestra Development Association, Carolina Wren Press, Raleigh Chamber Music Guild, Burning Coal Theatre and the American Forum. She served as a judge for the Raleigh Fine Arts Society’s Annual Fiction Contest for eight years and was the co-coordinator of the Reader’s Series at the Hardback Café in Chapel Hill with Paul Jones and Georgann Eubanks. Carrie was also the founder and coordinator of the Boylan Heights ArtWalk from 1992-2007 and the founder and director of the Cary Cross Currents Festival from 2008-2012.

Carrie and her husband, Jeff Leiter, have called Raleigh home since 1978. They have three children and one grandchild.

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