This evening, Wednesday, April 14, 2021, at 6:00pm Pacific, you are invited to celebrate Rena Priest’s appointment by Governor Jay Inslee as Washington State’s 6th Poet Laureate. This very special event is organized and hosted by the Lhaq’temish (Lummi) Nation, Humanities Washington, ArtsWA (the WA State Arts Commission), and the Washington Center for the Book. Past Laureates Claudia Castro Luna, Tod Marshall, Elizabeth Austen, Kathleen Flenniken, and Sam Green (in absentia) will be honored guests as we gather to pass the laurel in an evening of poetry, speech, and song. Produced by Children of the Setting Sun Productions.

Register here.

your turn?

October 24, 2020

Applications are now being accepted for the position of Washington State Poet Laureate.

The position serves to build awareness and appreciation of poetry through public readings, workshops, and presentations in communities throughout the state.

The new laureate will serve from April 15, 2021-April 14, 2023. The position is sponsored by the Washington State Arts Commission (ArtsWA) and Humanities Washington, with the support of Governor Jay Inslee.

To be considered, applicants must meet all eligibility requirements and submit an application online. Applications must be submitted electronically by 5:00 p.m. on December 4, 2020.

Those wishing to apply are encouraged to attend a webinar on Tuesday, October 27, 2020, at 3:00 p.m. or Wednesday, October 28 at 5:00 p.m.

The current poet laureate is the wonderful Claudia Castro Luna (a hard act to follow, as were her predecessors). A Washington State Book Award-nominated poet and creator of Washington Poetic Routes and One River, Many Voices series of readings along the Columbia River, Castro Luna has held hundreds of poetry workshops and readings across Washington State since February 2018. See more on the Washington State Poet Laureate blog.

Is it your turn?

today, times three!

October 21, 2020

Today, Wednesday, October 21, 2020, is a big day for poetry. Here are links to three terrific virtual events that should be enormously inspiring (times are Pacific):

At 12:30pm, U.S. Poet Laureate Joy Harjo reads and discusses her work as part of the October 19-23 celebration, Always Indigenous: Fifty Years of the Chief Seattle Club.

At 5:00pm, Dear America Town Hall —Real Patriotism: The Art of Activism and Protest features readings and discussion by Sherwin Bitsui, Fenton Johnson, Aimee Nezhukumatathil and Debra Marquart, facilitated by Terrain.org editor-in-chief Simmons Buntin.

At 7:30pm, Town Hall Seattle presents Kathleen Flenniken in conversation with fellow poet Sharon Bryan.

Enjoy!

Jack Straw voices

November 2, 2019

You have two opportunities to hear the 2019 Jack Straw Writers, this year selected by curator (and former Washington State Poet Laureate) Kathleen Flenniken.

Today, Saturday, November 2, 2019, at 2:00pm, the Downtown Seattle Public Library will present new work by Dianne Aprile, Shankar Narayan, Rena Priest, Sylvia Byrne Pollack, Samar Abulhassan, Christianne Balk, Leanne Dunic, Michael Schmeltzer, Josh Axelrad, Gabrielle Bates, and Suzanne Warren, hosted by Kathleen Flenniken.

Tomorrow, Village Books in Bellingham will host a six-pack of Jack Straw writers reading selections from the 2019 Jack Straw Writers Anthology. Join the audience at 4:00pm to hear Dianne Aprile, Christianne Balk, Leanne Dunic, Sylvia Byrne Pollack, Rena Priest, and Suzanne Warren.

Both readings are free.

More about Jack Straw.

Olympia two-fer

September 11, 2019

The Olympia Poetry Network (OPN) invites your participation in a weekend of laureate poetry, LaureateFest.

On Saturday, September 21, 2019, 1:00-3:00pm, there will be a panel discussion with Washington State Poets Laureate Samuel Green, Kathleen Flenniken, Elizabeth Austen, Tod Marshall, and Claudia Castro Luna. That evening, beginning at 7:00pm, there will be a LaureateFest reading. Both events are free and will be held at Norman Worthington Conference Center, Saint Martin’s University.

On Sunday, September 22, Elizabeth Austen will conduct a workshop, “The Title as Frame and Invitation,” 11:00am-1:00pm, at Heart Of The Deernicorn studio in downtown Olympia. Workshop is limited to 20 participants and registration is required.

Washington needs you

June 20, 2019

Do you have an abundance of energy, creativity, time, patience, and poetry smarts? If so, you could be the next Washington State Poet Laureate.

Humanities Washington and the Washington State Arts Commission (ArtsWA) are accepting applications for Washington State’s next poet laureate. The poet laureate serves to build awareness and appreciation of poetry, including Washington’s legacy of poetry, through public readings, workshops, and presentations in communities throughout the state. The new laureate will serve from January 16, 2020, to January 15, 2022.

The deadline to apply is July 26, 2019.

View application guidelines here.

Pictured, from left, recent Washington Poets Laureate Tod Marshall, Claudia Castro Luna, Elizabeth Austen, Kathleen Flenniken. (Not shown: Samuel Green)

Passing of the Laurel

January 18, 2018

Washington State has been exceedingly fortunate in our Poets Laureate. Sam Green (2007–2009), Kathleen Flenniken (2012–2014), Elizabeth Austen (2014-2016), and Tod Marshall (2016-2018) have been generous advocates for poetry, tirelessly traveling back and forth across the state to bring the experience of poetry into our lives. They have supported local poetry at every level, and have challenged us to become finer writers and listeners.

They have set a high bar. And now, the laurel will be passed to another accomplished and energetic poet, Claudia Castro Luna, who will serve as Washington State Poet Laureate 2018-2020. On Wednesday, January 31, 2018, the official Passing of the Laurel will be held at the Seattle Public Library, Central Library, and will feature readings by Marshall, Castro Luna, former poets laureate and other Pacific Northwest poets. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and the program begins at 7:00 p.m.

Show your support for this valuable program and our wonderful poets laureate. The event is free.

The poet laureate is sponsored by Humanities Washington and ArtsWA, with the support of Gov. Jay Inslee. The position is funded by the National Endowment for the Arts and Humanities Washington.

We are very pleased to share the news that Claudia Castro Luna, a prominent Seattle poet and teacher, has been appointed the fifth Washington State Poet Laureate by Governor Jay Inslee.

Castro Luna fled war-torn El Salvador for the United States at the age of 14 with her family. She went on to earn an MFA in poetry and an MA in urban planning. After working as a K-12 teacher, she became Seattle’s first Civic Poet, a position appointed by the mayor. In that position, Castro Luna won acclaim for her Seattle Poetic Grid, an online interactive map showcasing poems about different locations around the city. The grid even landed her an interview on PBS NewsHour. She is also the author of the poetry chapbook This City and the collection Killing Marías.

Castro Luna’s term will run from February 1, 2018, to January 31, 2020. She will succeed Tod Marshall, the current poet laureate. Prior to Marshall, Elizabeth Austen (2014–2016), Kathleen Flenniken (2012–2014), and Sam Green (2007–2009) held the position.

The Washington State Poet Laureate program is jointly sponsored by Humanities Washington and the Washington State Arts Commission (ArtsWA).

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photo bu Timothy Aguero

big shoes

January 11, 2016

Washington State Poet Laureate (2016-2018)

On February 1, 2016, when Tod Marshall assumes his role as the fourth Washington State Poet Laureate, he has big shoes to fill. Since 2007, when Samuel Green became the state’s first poet laureate, followed by Kathleen Flenniken (2012-2014) and Elizabeth Austen (2014-2016), the residents of the Evergreen State have been treated to a truly impressive array of poetry.

Through our poets laureate, poetry readings, workshops, classes, exhibits and publications have reached every corner of the state, and every county in between. The amount of vision, creativity, time and sheer energy required is difficult to imagine, especially given that the job of poet laureate comes in addition to, not instead of, ‘regular’ work.

We have been exceedingly fortunate in our poets laureate and extend a warm welcome to Tod Marshall, who will bring a new voice and new vision to Washington poetry in the coming months.

You can find additional details on Governor Jay Inslee’s appointment of Marshall on Spark, the online magazine of Humanities Washington.
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photo by Amy Sinisterra

Reece - The Road to EmmausVillage Books (Bellingham) will host three distinguished poets for a reading that is sure to pack the Readings Gallery this evening, Monday, August 18, 2014. Spencer Reece will read from his new book, The Road to Emmaus (Farrar, Strauss and Giroux) and the audience can also expect fine words from poets Kathleen Flenniken and Jeremy Voigt.

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