next time you’re in Victoria

September 29, 2022

Little Ross Bay Beach sits on the southern shore of Victoria, BC, overlooking the Salish Sea. In honor of Yvonne Blomer’s term as Victoria’s fourth Poet Laureate (2015-2018), her poem “Our One Blue Bowl” has been carved into Vancouver Island granite and installed there. Next time you’re in Victoria, enjoy the poetry and the view.

new Poet Laureate

July 12, 2022

The Library of Congress has today announced the appointment of Ada Limón as the 24th Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress.

She joins a long line of distinguished poets who have served in the position, including Joy Harjo, who served three terms in the position (2019-2022), Juan Felipe Herrera, Charles Wright, Natasha Trethewey, Philip Levine, W.S. Merwin, Kay Ryan, Charles Simic, Donald Hall, Ted Kooser, Louise Glück, Billy Collins, Stanley Kunitz, Robert Pinsky, Robert Hass, and Rita Dove.

Ada Limón is the author of six books of poetry, including The Carrying, which won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry. Limón is also the host of the critically-acclaimed poetry podcast, The Slowdown. Her new book of poetry, The Hurting Kind, is out now from Milkweed Editions.

Congratulations, Ada Limón!

. . . . .
photo by Shawn Miller

meet some laureates

June 13, 2022

Marie Marchand
photo by Sami Jo

Laura Da’
photo by Dean Davis

Sah Pham

CMarie Fuhrman
photo by Dean Davis

Stacy Boe Miller

Fiona Tinwei Lam
photo by Holly Hoffman

Louise Bernice Halfe / Sky Dancer
photo: Library of Parliament


Appointments for the poets laureate of cities, states, and nations do not run on a single schedule. Terms of service vary and some terms have been extended thanks to recent disruptions.

Here are a number of recent-ish appointments in the Cascadia region (for more, see additional poets laureate posts):

Marie Marchand began her one-year term (renewable for up to three years) as the first Poet Laureate of Ellensburg, Washington, in April 2022.

Laura Da’ is the 2022-2023 Poet Laureate of Redmond, Washington.

Sah Pham is the 2022/23 Seattle Youth Poet Laureate.

Appointed in 2021, CMarie Fuhrman is the Idaho State Poet Laureate and Writer in Residence.

Stacy Boe Miller is the 2021-2024 Poet Laureate of Moscow, Idaho.

Fiona Tinwei Lam is the 2022-2024 Poet Laureate of Vancouver, British Columbia.

And last, but not least, Louise Bernice Halfe — Sky Dancer became Canada’s Parliamentary Poet Laureate on January 1, 2021, and will serve a two-year term.

We congratulate these poets and thank them for bringing the voice and spirit of poetry into communities across the country.

Recent-past Washington State Poet Laureate Claudia Castro Luna has a new book of poems (her fourth), Cipota Under the Moon, about love, light, and children’s resilience in the face of war. She will be reading from its pages next Thursday, May 19, 2022, at 7:00pm. Co-presented by The Seattle Public Library and Elliott Bay Book Company, the event will be held in person at the Seattle Central Library and will also be live-streamed. Joining Claudia will be poet Leticia Hernández-Linares. The event is free, with registration.

Joined by Washington State Poet Laureate Rena Priest and other special guests, Claudia Castro Luna will also read from her new book in a special event hosted by Floating Bridge Press. Presented on Friday, June 3, 2022, at 7:00pm, the in-person event will be held at the Nepantla Cultural Arts Gallery in Seattle. Seating is very limited. To attend this free event, RSVP to editor [AT] floatingbridgepress.org.

And finally (for now), head over to YouTube to watch Claudia’s KING 5 interview with Amity Addrisi on New Day NW.

In case you missed this (as we did), Intersections of Poetry and Civic Life was a reading and conversation event that featured Rena Priest, Washington State Poet Laureate; Tod Marshall, Spokane poet and Washington State Poet Laureate (2016-2018); Jourdan Imani Keith, Seattle Civic Poet; and Zinnia Hansen, Seattle Youth Poet Laureate. The event was moderated by Marcie Sillman, co-host of the doubleXposure podcast and former KUOW arts reporter, and it is available for viewing on TVW.

new poets laureate

September 5, 2021

Our poets laureate, whether representing city, state, or nation, play an important role in bringing poetry to communities and classrooms. Through their own words and those of others, they offer unique insights into current events, concerns, and emotions. The role is both creative and demanding. Here are a number of recently appointed (or not previously mentioned) Cascadia-region poets laureate:

 
Olympia, Washington
ASHLY McBUNCH
(2021-2023)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Montana
MARK GIBBONS
(2021-2022)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
Nanaimo, BC, Canada
KAMAL PARMAR
(2021-2023)
photo by Dirk Heydemann
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
Victoria, BC, Canada
JOHN BARTON
(2019 – 2022)
photo by John Preston

live on Vashon

July 20, 2021

Join Vashon Island poets and poetry fans live and in person at Snapdragon Bakery & Cafe on Friday, July 23, 2021, at 7:00pm, to welcome the new Vashon Island Poet Laureate, Sandra Noel. There will be readings, ceremony, and cake!

meanwhile, in Oregon

June 18, 2021

Oregon poet laureate Anis Mojgani seated on caramel colored couch wearing a coral colored shirt

Nice article this week in Oregon Live about how Oregon poet laureate Anis Mojgani plans to use the proceeds of a $50,000 fellowship funded by the Academy of American Poets with support from the Mellon Foundation. His plans include a quarterly print newspaper, a poetry telephone line, and a postcard campaign. Read all about it.

more from Spokane

April 27, 2021

Back in January, we mentioned Browne’s Addition, a Spokane neighborhood, and how it figured into a city-centric project of Spokane Poet Laureate Chris Cook. Since that time, Cook’s project, In the Neighborhood, has taken on a life of its own, inspiring poetry from neighborhoods throughout the city and yielding a video as well.

Good work, Chris Cook and Spokane poets!

We are absolutely thrilled to announce that Rena Priest has been appointed 2021-2023 Washington State Poet Laureate by Governor Jay Inslee.

A member of the Lhaq’temish (Lummi) Nation, Priest will be the first Indigenous poet to assume the role. Priest’s literary debut, Patriarchy Blues, was honored with the 2018 American Book Award, and her most recent work is Sublime Subliminal.

The two-year term officially begins April 15, 2021. She will succeed Claudia Castro Luna, the current poet laureate. Prior to Castro Luna the position was held by Tod Marshall (2016-2018), Elizabeth Austen (2014–2016), Kathleen Flenniken (2012–2014), and Sam Green (2007–2009).

“I am incredibly excited and honored to take on this role,” said Priest. “I’m fascinated by the way people come together around poetry. I am always delighted by how they gather in quiet rooms and let themselves be drawn in, lit up, and transformed by the words of other people. It’s a powerful way of connecting.”

The Washington State Poet Laureate program is jointly sponsored by Humanities Washington and the Washington State Arts Commission (ArtsWA). Poets laureate work to build awareness and appreciation of poetry — including the state’s legacy of poetry — through public readings, workshops, lectures, and presentations in communities throughout the state.

“The position of Poet Laureate in our state is so much more than ceremonial,” said Humanities Washington CEO Julie Ziegler. “It’s a dedicated outreach position where you meet with thousands of people each year, using poetry and language as a starting point for connection.”

Laureates are selected through an application and panel review process that evaluates candidates’ writing acumen, commitment to reaching diverse communities, and experience promoting poetry.

“The panel was impressed by Rena’s skill and compelling nature of her poetry and work,” said ArtsWA Executive Director Karen Hanan. “She was also chosen for the depth and breadth of her connections to communities and her capacity to further extend those connections through her role as State Poet Laureate.”

Each laureate puts their own unique focus on the position, and Priest will focus on two primary goals during her term: celebrating poetry in Washington’s tribal communities; and using poetry to increase appreciation of the natural world and the threats facing it.

“There are 29 federally recognized tribes in Washington, composed of 140,714 tribal citizens,” said Priest. “I’m sad to say that in the hundreds of poetry readings I’ve attended over the years, I’ve only met a handful of Native poets. I know that this is not because we don’t exist, but because we don’t have the same access to writing communities as people living in cities and towns.”

For the environmental piece, she “hopes to use poetry and story to invite readers to engage in contemplation of how they can help protect the natural world.”

“We are in an important historical moment when science has given us a deadline to make significant changes to heal our planet,” she said. “I want to use poetry as a tool to offer new perspectives and generate enthusiasm for the idea that we can slow and reverse the effects of ecological destruction simply by loving the Earth.”

Priest was drawn to poetry from an early age. Her grandmother published a small chapbook of poetry, and she cites that and Shel Silverstein’s book Where the Sidewalk Ends as “among the finest gifts I’ve ever been given.” And as a child, Priest would lie in bed at night and “whisper pleasing word combinations. It was the best thing I knew how to do. It’s still the best thing I know how to do.”

In addition to winning the American Book Award for Patriarchy Blues, Priest’s latest book is Sublime Subliminal. She has received the Allied Arts Foundation 2020 Professional Poets Award, and residency fellowships from Hawthornden Castle, Hedgebrook, and Mineral School. She is also the recipient of the 2020 Vadon Foundation Fellowship. She is a National Geographic Explorer and a 2019 Jack Straw Writer. Priest’s work can be found in Poetry Northwest, Pontoon Poetry, Verse Daily, Poem-a-Day at Poets.org, and elsewhere. She has taught Comparative Cultural Studies and Contemporary American Issues at Western Washington University and Native American Literature at Northwest Indian College. Priest holds a BA in English from Western Washington University and an MFA in Writing from Sarah Lawrence College. She lives in Bellingham, Washington.

“Poetry is a gift,” said Priest. “This is my approach to it and my belief about it: I’m very lucky to have it. We all are.”

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