“Pearl is Atlanta,” said Camille Russell Love, executive director of the Mayor’s Office for Cultural Affairs, which administers the poet laureate post. “There isn’t a more deserving writer in the city of Atlanta to be our poet laureate.”
Love’s office has commissioned Cleage to write a poem dedicated to the victims of the 1979-1981 missing and murdered children cases. The poem will be part of an upcoming exhibition honoring those killed in one of the city’s most infamous crimes.
For the last several years, Cleage has also been the playwright-in-residence at the Alliance Theatre, creating original work that centers the lives of Black women and families. A hallmark of her work has long been looking at Black life through a lens of hope and optimism.
Love said that in Cleage’s new role she’s hopeful the writer will serve “through her work and presence,” as an inspiration for young people in Atlanta to “find their voices.”
Playwright Pearl Cleage and Alliance Theatre Director Susan V. Booth talk during a rehearsal of Cleage’s new play “Angry, Raucous, and Shamelessly Gorgeous”.