meanwhile in Spokane…

January 16, 2021

Browne’s Addition is Spokane’s oldest neighborhood. Chris Cook is Spokane’s Poet Laureate. Where the two meet is one of Cook’s current projects: #onlyinbrownes.

As Cook walks through the neighborhood, he snaps photos of sights that strike him as quirky or unusual and posts them to #onlyinbrownes on Facebook. Now (through February 12, 2021) he’s inviting current or former residents of Spokane and the Spokane area to submit poems paying tribute to Spokane’s neighborhoods. See the guidelines for In the Neighborhood Poetry Project and read more about the project in The Inlander.

Each year, poets in Oregon and elsewhere celebrate the prolific poet William Stafford to mark his January 17 birthday. There seem to be fewer readings than usual this year, but we’ve found these three free online events:

  • Saturday, January 9, 2021, 2:00pm – Milwaukie Poetry Series and the Ledding Library present a William Stafford Birthday Celebration with featured readings and an open mic.
  • Thursday, January 14, 2021, 7:00pm – Southern Oregon University presents the 26th Annual William Stafford Poetry Celebration with featured poets Angela Decker, Barry Vitcov, Susan DuMond, Pepper Trail, Tiel Aisha Ansari, and Michael Dylan Welch, followed by a special presentation by James Armstrong on “William Stafford and Popular Modernism” as well as an open mic.
  • Sunday, January 17, 2021, 3:00pm – Oregon City Public Library presents a William Stafford Poetry Reading by members of the Third Monday Authors Group, plus an open mic.

If you know of other 2021 Stafford celebrations, please feel free to note them in the Comments.

Thank you!

December 22, 2020

Year in and year out, whatever the circumstances, our poets laureate encourage and support the presence of poetry in our lives. If they’re paid, it’s a pittance, though they say the rewards are considerable. Some laureates serve for a year, some for two, some, well, just serve. At the close of this highly irregular year, some of our regional poets laureate are completing their terms, others are continuing behind the scenes to figure out ways to bring poetry into our homes and hearts during 2021. This post is simply an acknowledgment and thank you to this group of creative individuals. You are appreciated!

(pictured from left)
Top row
Claudia Castro Luna (Washington); Susan Landgraf (Auburn); Tia Hudson (Bremerton)
Second row
Gwendolyn Morgan (Clark Co., WA); Sady Sparks (Olympia); Raúl Sánchez (Redmond)
Third row
Jourdan Imani Keith (Seattle Civic Poet); Bitaniya Giday (Seattle Youth Poet Laureate); Chris Cook (Spokane)
Bottom row
Abby E. Murray (Tacoma); Susan Lynch (Vashon); Anis Mojgani (Oregon)

If we’ve missed anyone, apologies, and please let us know in the Comments. Also, we note that Ellensburg, Washington, has recently approved a city poet laureate position, but has not yet named the first poet to serve.

THANK YOU, poets laureate!

Living Nations, Living Words

November 28, 2020

As you may have heard, Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden has announced the appointment of U.S. Poet Laureate Joy Harjo to a third term, to begin in September 2021. Harjo is only the second laureate to receive this extension since terms for the position were established in 1943.

Among the laureate’s responsibilities is the creation of a signature project. Hayden’s announcement also marks the launch of Harjo’s signature project, “Living Nations, Living Words.” Designed to “introduce the country to the many Native poets who live in these lands….The ‘Living Nations, Living Words’ project features a sampling of work by 47 Native Nations poets through an interactive ArcGIS Story Map and a newly developed Library of Congress audio collection.”

“Each of the 47 Native Nations poets featured in ‘Living Nations, Living Words’ selected an original poem on the theme of place and displacement, and with four touchpoints in mind: visibility, persistence, resistance, and acknowledgment.” Forty-seven may not sound like a lot, but this is an ambitious project. Follow the links above to learn about the poets, hear and read the poems, and read transcripts of the poets reading and discussing their poems. All of the material is now archived in the Library of Congress.

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?

meanwhile, in Vermont

September 28, 2020

When Mary Ruefle was appointed Poet Laureate of Vermont in October 2019, she probably was not imagining that her first year (of four) in office would be defined by a pandemic. (Or, for that matter, that her latest collection, Dunce, would be one of two finalists for the 2020 Pulitzer Prize in poetry.)

Each laureate envisions projects for their tenure and Ruefle decided to send 1,000 poetry postcards to Vermont residents. Selecting recipients from the phone book using her own quirky system, she sends poems that seem to have a particular resonance to the current moment.

Read about Mary Ruefle’s postcard project here.

. . . . .
photo by Matt Valentine

Amidst plenty of gloomy financial news, the Academy of American Poets has announced awards of $50,000 each to 23 Poets Laureate of states, cities, counties, and the Navajo Nation. Funded by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the program is in its second year, with expanded coverage and a change in focus, as poets are subject to travel restrictions and other distancing requirements. You may recall that Claudia Castro Luna’s One River, A Thousand Names project was funded last year.

Cascadia’s sole winner this year is Susan Landgraf, Poet Laureate of Auburn, Washington. A poet and journalist, Landgraf is the author of What We Bury Changes the Ground (Tebot Bach, 2017). She will partner with the Muckleshoot Tribe and Reservation and the City of Auburn to offer poetry workshops at the Tribal School and in the Auburn Public Schools Tribal Programs, as well as for adults and children at the Tribal Center. The project will culminate in a book of participants’ poems, as well as a series of readings on the Reservation, in the City of Auburn, and at the State Capitol.

Congratulations to Susan and all of this year’s grantees!

Poetic Shelters

May 22, 2020

The ever-busy, ever-imaginative Claudia Castro Luna, Washington State’s Poet Laureate, has introduced a new project for these times: Poetic Shelters.

“This project asks you to consider the poetics of your home and how its physical and emotional character is changing during this time. The home, whatever that may be for someone, is a space we each know intimately and can therefore represent poetically by sharing our memories, frustrations, daydreams, and also by by describing its physical configuration.”

Poems, mini-essays, and accompanying photos, if available, are invited. While Poetic Shelters is Washington-centric, contributors from other locations are welcome to submit.

Visit Poetic Shelters for more information and to read a sampling of poems.

poets laureate

May 2, 2020

Congratulations to Anis Mojgani, who has just accepted an appointment as the 10th Poet Laureate of Oregon. Watch Anis Mojgani on Button Poetry “To Where the Trees Grow Tall” or his TEDxEmory talk, “The music of growing up down south.”

Congratulations also to Joy Harjo, who has just been appointed to a second term as U.S. Poet Laureate.

Poetry is especially important right now and it’s good to have such capable and creative poets as guides.

. . . . .
Photo by Hilde Franzsen

Kim Stafford x 7

April 13, 2020

Kim Stafford, the Poet Laureate of Oregon, has written and posted a small collection of short poems he wrote over a week’s time, each one addressing the realities and uncertainties of this particular time. Poems for the Pandemic includes the text of each poem, a vocal recording, as well as an accompanying photograph or video by Brooke Herbert or Beth Nakamura.

. . . . .
photo by Brooke Herbert
Thanks to Roger Gilman for the heads up!

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