on poetry

April 16, 2018


“Wasn’t it strange that a poem, written in my vocabulary and as a result of my own thoughts or observations, could, when it was finished, manage to show me something I hadn’t already known?”
Tracy K. Smith
(b. April 16, 1972)

. . . . .
Tracy K. Smith has recently accepted an appointment to serve a second term as the nation’s 22nd Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry, for 2018-2019. Congratulations and Happy Birthday!

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the latest laureate

March 25, 2018

Congratulations to Susan Landgraf, who has been named Poet Laureate of Auburn, Washington. Widely published, her most recent book is What We Bury Changes the Ground (Tebot Bach, 2017). A former journalist, Susan was a 2007 Jack Straw Writer, a professor of writing, media, and diversity/globalism classes at Highline College, and has taught hundreds of workshops, including at the San Miguel Writers’ Conference, Centrum, and the Marine and Science Technology Center. Her book of writing exercises is expected later this year from Two Sylvias Press. Susan Landgraf takes over from previous Auburn Poet Laureate Marjorie Rommel and will serve until 2020.

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“Poetry Rides the Bus”

February 12, 2018

Bus riders in Olympia, Washington, will now have a chance to enjoy poetry on their journey, thanks to Poetry Rides the Bus.” The project, coordinated by Olympia’s First Poet Laureate, Amy Solomon-Minarchi, received more than 120 submissions, from which 22 were selected for posting in buses and bus shelters around the city.

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photo by Jeff Chew

remembering Ella

February 11, 2018

We’ve written before about Ella Rhoads Higginson, the first Poet Laureate of Washington State. Now, Laura Laffrado, WWU professor and author of Selected Writings of Ella Higginson: Inventing Pacific Northwest Literature, has initiated a campaign to celebrate this important figure in Washington State poetry with the creation of a bronze bust to be placed in the Reading Room in Wilson Library. Robert McDermott, whose sculpture of Dirty Dan Harris on Fairhaven Green will be familiar to many, has been chosen as the artist.

To learn more or to contribute to the campaign, visit the Western Washington University VikingFunder Ella Higginson project page.

looking back

January 24, 2018

As Tod Marshall rounds out his last few days of official laureate duties, The Spokesman-Review has published a thoughtful interview in which Marshall reflects on his experience, observations, and ideas about what’s ahead. Read Carolyn Lamberson’s interview with the outgoing poet laureate here: The end of the road: Washington poet laureate Tod Marshall looks back on two years of words, inspiration, and road trips.

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.

When Washington State Poet Laureate Tod Marshall invited poets statewide to submit work for an anthology, he may not have anticipated receiving some 2400 poems in response. Selecting the first 129 for the original volume wasn’t easy. As Marshall explains, “I received so many fine poems from so many talented poets that I knew I’d be making decisions between many poems that I admired equally, and I’d have to leave out many works that were quite good — and so I decided to set aside another several dozen poems to share with readers via a digital format.”

With the help of students from Jeff Dodd’s literary editing and design class at Gonzaga University, those poems have now been turned into four digital chapbooks, which can be viewed and downloaded here, free.

Our continuing gratitude to Tod Marshall for all he has contributed to poetry in Washington State during his two-year tenure.

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