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

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Poet Laureate two-fer

October 14, 2017

Washington State Poet Laureate Tod Marshall and the Washington 129 anthology will enjoy a full day of poetry in Bellingham on Friday, October 20, 2017.

In the afternoon, Tod will participate in a meet-and-greet at Greene’s Corner, 2208 James Street. Doors open and open mic signup begins at 1:30pm. There will be music and readings from 2:00 to 4:00pm. This event is hosted by poet Betty Scott, musician J.P. Falcon Grady, and Lance & Kristine Bailey, the poetry-loving owners of Greene’s Corner.

Beginning at 7:00pm, Tod will host an evening of readings from Washington 129 at the Mount Baker Theatre Encore Room. Reading their anthology poem as well as new and selected works will be poets Alice Derry, Betty Scott, Daniel Moore, Eric Lochridge, Janette Rosebrook, Jennifer Bullis, J.I. Kleinberg, Luther Allen, Paul Piper, Robert Lashley, Sierra Golden, Susan J. Erickson, and Tess Gallagher. The reading is free and copies of Washington 129 and other titles by the poets will be available for purchase (thanks, Village Books!). This event is sponsored by Humanities Washington and ArtsWA and graciously hosted by the Mount Baker Theatre.

Please join Tod Marshall and friends at one or both of these fine events!

Poet Laureate

August 24, 2017

In case you missed it, Washington’s magazine, 1889, published a fine article about poet laureate Tod Marshall, “Tod Marshall, Washington’s Poetry Road Warrior.” In addition to photos and video footage, it offers a look at the scope of Marshall’s commitment to the job… and the big shoes the next poet laureate will have to fill, come 2018.

watch for it…

June 27, 2017

We have it on good authority that Washington State Poet Laureate Tod Marshall is working on a series of readings for Washington 129.

We’ll post them here when dates are confirmed, but meanwhile, check out the review of Washington 129 by Dennis Held in The Spokesman-Review.

Congratulations!

June 14, 2017

Photo credit: Rachel Eliza Griffiths

The Poetry Department extends congratulations to Tracy K. Smith, who has been named the 22nd Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry, for 2017-2018. Smith will take up her duties in the fall, opening the Library of Congress annual literary season in September with a reading of her work at the Coolidge Auditorium.

Smith, a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet and a professor at Princeton University, succeeds Juan Felipe Herrera as Poet Laureate. She joins a long line of distinguished poets who have served in the position, including 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.

Tracy Smith is the author of three books of poetry, including Life on Mars (2011), winner of the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry; Duende (2007), winner of the 2006 James Laughlin Award and the 2008 Essence Literary Award; and The Body’s Question (2003), winner of the Cave Canem Poetry Prize. Smith is also the author of a memoir, Ordinary Light (2015), a finalist for the 2015 National Book Award in nonfiction and selected as a notable book by the New York Times and the Washington Post.

For her poetry, Smith has received a Rona Jaffe Writers Award and a Whiting Award. In 2014, the Academy of American Poets awarded her with the Academy Fellowship, given to one poet each year to recognize distinguished poetic achievement. In 2015, she won the 16th annual Robert Creeley Award and in 2016 was awarded Columbia University’s Medal for Excellence.

In the Pulitzer Prize citation for Life on Mars, judges lauded its “bold, skillful poems, taking readers into the universe and moving them to an authentic mix of joy and pain.” Toi Derricotte, poet and Academy of American Poets chancellor, said “the surfaces of a Tracy K. Smith poem are beautiful and serene, but underneath, there is always a sense of an unknown vastness. Her poems take the risk of inviting us to imagine, as the poet does, what it is to travel in another person’s shoes.”

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Photo credit: Rachel Eliza Griffiths

a hard act to follow

May 19, 2017

Applications are now being accepted 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 February 1, 2018, to January 31, 2020. Washington joined several other states in appointing an official state poet laureate in 2007.

The position is sponsored by the Washington State Arts Commission (ArtsWA) and Humanities Washington, with the support of Governor Jay Inslee. Current laureate Tod Marshall has driven thousands of miles and held hundreds of poetry workshops and readings across Washington State since February 2016. Marshall, a Washington State Book Award-winning poet and Gonzaga professor, is in the second year of his two-year term. A list of his upcoming events is available via Humanities Washington’s website and the state poet laureate’s blog.

Applications are due July 31, 2017. Read more about the position and download the guidelines at ArtsWA.

Today!

April 30, 2017


You are invited to join Washington Poet Laureate Tod Marshall and poets Luther Allen, Jim Bertolino, Michael Daley, J.I. Kleinberg, and Nancy Pagh as they present selections from Washington 129, today at 2:00pm at the Anacortes Public Library. Washington state Poetry Out Loud champ Addi Garner will also recite and read a poem.

As a bonus, today is the last official day of the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival, so allow some extra time for flower viewing.

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