The Larger Voice

November 6, 2022

The Native Arts and Cultures Foundation (NACF) advances equity and cultural knowledge, focusing on the power of arts and collaboration to strengthen Native communities and promote positive social change with American Indian, Native Hawaiian, and Alaska Native peoples in the United States.

The NACF National Artist Fellowship initiative was built around the fact that in order for any artist to succeed creatively, they need time, space, and financial support to cultivate their creative process, improve their craft, explore new concepts and, for some, take risks that they might not have had the capacity to take otherwise.

The Larger Voice: Celebrating the Work of Native Arts and Cultures Foundation Literature Fellows is a new publication by NACF that highlights the work of National Artist Fellows in literature. Edited by Washington State Poet Laureate Rena Priest, the collection features cover art by Dyani White Hawk Polk (Sičáŋǧu Lakota), a foreword by U.S. Poet Laureate Joy Harjo (Mvskoke), and selected works by Sherwin Bitsui (Diné), Laura Da’ (Eastern Shawnee), Natalie Diaz (Mojave and an enrolled member of the Gila River Indian Tribe), Heid E. Erdrich (Ojibwe Turtle Mountain), Kelli Jo Ford (Citizen of the Cherokee Nation), Santee Frazier (Citizen of the Cherokee Nation), Linda Hogan (Chickasaw), Layli Long Soldier (Citizen of the Oglala Lakota Nation), Mona Susan Power (Enrolled Member of the Standing Rock Sioux Nation), Luci Tapahonso (Diné), David Treuer (Ojibwe), Michael Wasson (Nez Perce [Nimíipuu]), and Elizabeth Woody (The Confederated Tribes of the Reservation at Warm Springs, Oregon).

Read The Larger Voice on issuu or request a PDF.

your turn

October 26, 2022

Rena Priest (along with Claudia Castro Luna, Tod Marshall, Elizabeth Austen, Kathleen Flenniken, and Sam Green) has set a very high bar, but if you have the energy, personality, poetry chops, time, organizational skills, flexibility, and interest, applications (and nominations) are now open for the 2023-2025 Washington State Poet Laureate.

see you in La Conner!

October 5, 2022

The Skagit River Poetry Festival gets going tomorrow, Thursday, October 6, 2022, with a soirée at Maple Hall in La Conner followed by a special reading: Welcome to Indian Country: A Reading to Celebrate our First Nation Roots, with Rena Priest, Sasha LaPointe, and Ray Young Bear, Music & Blessing with Kevin Paul and Katherine Paul of Black Belt Eagle Scout.

On Friday, high school students from eight local districts will attend four sessions of panels and readings. The public is invited to attend additional panels on Friday afternoon beginning at 2:30pm, and an all-poets reading at Maple Hall at 7:30pm Friday.

A dazzling array of panels continues through Saturday, 8:00am to 5:00pm, and the festival culminates with a special reading by Lorna Crozier, Terrance Hayes, Jane Hirshfield, and Karen Solie: Healing the Divide: Poems of Kindness & Connection.

See the Schedule with the complete list of activities, sessions, and faculty. Tickets are available through Eventbrite.

Hope to see you there!

award, reading, conversation

September 22, 2022

Every two years, The Seattle Foundation at the University of Washington awards the Maxine Cushing Gray Endowed Libraries Visiting Writers Fellowship to “an established prose writer, poet, playwright, screenwriter, journalist or critic, who is a writer of sustained achievement and whose intent is serious and talent noteworthy with roots in the Pacific Northwest.” The award is named in honor of Maxine Cushing Gray, who was a prominent Northwest critic and editor.

Washington State Poet Laureate Rena Priest was named the 2022 Maxine Cushing Grey Distinguished Writers Fellow, and on Tuesday, October 18, 2022, at 6:00pm, she will present an online reading to be followed by a conversation with UW Tacoma professor Danica Miller, with an opportunity for audience questions afterward.

Mark your calendar and Register to participate in this free event.

. . . . .
Thanks to Peter Messinger for the heads up!

Spend an evening at the lovely Lincoln Theatre in Mount Vernon as Washington State Poet Laureate Rena Priest offers a reading followed by a generative poetry workshop. The event, on Saturday, September 3, 2022, at 7:30pm, is entirely FREE, thanks to Humanities Washington, the Washington State Arts Commission, Skagit River Poetry Foundation, Skagit Land Trust, and Skagit Fisheries Enhancement Group.

. . . . .
photo by Calvin Miller (@cmjphotojournal)

call for salmon poems!

August 4, 2022

With the support of a fellowship from the Academy of American Poets, Washington State Poet Laureate Rena Priest is creating an anthology of poetry dedicated to salmon, and is calling for submissions from Washington State writers.

“Salmon are the unsung heroes of our region,” she says. “Adventurous and brave, they swim from their natal rivers out into the perils of the open ocean. Persistent, resilient, and strong, they swim upstream against swift currents for hundreds of miles to return home to spawn and complete the cycle of life.

“Salmon are sacred to my tribe, the Lhaq’temish (Lummi) Nation. We celebrate them in ceremony and song, and they have long been central to our Sche’le’ngen, our way of life. By celebrating salmon through poetry in every corner of the state, I hope to raise goodwill and a feeling of reverence for the salmon, a feeling that my people have felt since time immemorial.

“Seattle-based writer Timothy Egan writes, ‘The Pacific Northwest is simply this: wherever the salmon can get to.’ Before dams were installed, salmon inhabited streams throughout Washington state, even as far inland as Spokane, the Tri-Cities, and beyond. They have been a huge part of our regional identity, and I hope you will submit a poem or two about our iconic wild salmon.”

This project is supported in part by Humanities WA, the Washington State Arts Commission, and the Academy of American Poets. Empty Bowl Press will publish the anthology in 2023.

The submission deadline is September 18, 2022. See the complete guidelines here.

reserve your seat!

June 3, 2022

If you think that Washington State Poet Laureate Rena Priest just sits around waiting for the muse, think again! In addition to fulfilling her geographically challenging laureate duties, writing articles and poems, leading classes and workshops, and pursuing numerous community projects, Rena has found time to work with illustrator Jake Stoumbos on a new book: Northwest Know-how: Beaches.

Described as being “Entertaining, educational and highly giftable,” the book features descriptions of more than 30 beaches in Washington and Oregon, providing tips for visiting, fun facts, natural history, poetry, and lore.

Village Books and the North Cascades Institute invite you to join Rena and Jake for their book launch, presented as part of the Nature of Writing series on Friday, June 10, 2022, at 7:00pm, in the Readings Gallery at Village Books in Bellingham.

PLEASE NOTE: Village Books is still operating at limited capacity for in-person events. Proof of full vaccination is required, masking is optional, and advance registration is strongly recommended.

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.

salmon poetry

April 30, 2022

This is a guest post by Rena Priest.

Greetings Poets! Happy National Poetry Month!

As the month winds down and I head into my second year as Washington State Poet Laureate, I’m delighted to have this opportunity to share a few words with you. It has been a fantastic year full of new faces and reconnecting with old friends in the poetry community. I’ve shared poetry with many organizations, libraries, schools, and institutions, and I’ve written several new poems for special occasions. I have even collected a new manuscript!

Now I want to read your poems, specifically your salmon poems. Over the summer and early fall, I will be offering a traveling workshop called How to Catch a Salmon Poem. In this workshop, we’ll respond to a series of prompts to cultivate poems for a salmon-themed anthology. By the end of our time together, attendees will have a fresh catch of ideas to help them reel in new poems.

Why salmon? Salmon are the unsung heroes of our region. Adventurous and brave, they swim from their natal rivers out into the perils of the open ocean, where their bodies soak up the rich nutrients of the sea. Persistent, resilient, and strong, they swim upstream against swift currents for hundreds of miles to return home to spawn and complete the cycle of life. A keystone species, after spawning, they die and transfer all the marine-derived nutrients carried in their bodies to the animals, insects, soil, and plants in and around their natal stream.

Salmon are sacred to my tribe, the Lhaq’temish (Lummi) Nation. We celebrate them in ceremony and song, and they have long been central to our Sche’le’ngen, our way of life. By celebrating salmon through poetry in every corner of the state, I hope to raise goodwill and a feeling of reverence for the salmon, a feeling that my people have felt since time immemorial.

Seattle-based writer Timothy Egan writes, “The Pacific Northwest is simply this: wherever the salmon can get to.” Before dams were installed, salmon inhabited streams throughout Washington state, even as far inland as Spokane, the Tri-Cities, and beyond. They have been a massive part of our regional identity, and with many species struggling, it’s time to love them enough to save them.

Saving salmon and acknowledging our shared humanity through poetry is at the heart of my motivation to create an anthology celebrating our state’s salmon runs as well as our poets. I hope you will join us in one of these generative workshop offerings and be inspired to submit a poem or two about our iconic wild salmon of Washington state. I will be sharing workshop dates as they are set.

In the meantime, if you happen to have salmon poems in your repertoire, you can submit 1-3 poems via email to poet [AT] humanities.org. The open call deadline is June 1, 2022.

In your email, please affirm that

  • you currently live in Washington State
  • your poems are previously unpublished, or
  • your poems are published, but you retain the right to republish

If your poem is previously published

  • give the places and dates of all previous publications
  • affirm that you retain all rights to the work, and
  • include links to websites where available

If you’d like to have me offer a workshop in your community, you can send a message through my website (www.renapriest.com) and we can talk about scheduling a date. Stay tuned for more info! I look forward to reading your poems!!

Yours,
Rena Priest
Washington State Poet Laureate (2021-2023)

. . . . .

Rena Priest is a poet and an enrolled member of the Lhaq’temish (Lummi) Nation. She has been appointed to serve as the Washington State Poet Laureate from April 2021 to 2023. She is the 2022 Maxine Cushing Gray Distinguished Writing Fellow, an Indigenous Nations Poets Fellow, a Jack Straw Writer (2019), and a Vadon Foundation Fellow. She is also the recipient of an Allied Arts Foundation Professional Poets Award. Her debut collection, Patriarchy Blues, received an American Book Award, and her second collection, Sublime Subliminal, was published as the finalist for the Floating Bridge Press Chapbook Award. Priest holds an MFA from Sarah Lawrence College.

. . . . .
author photo by Savanna Estey
salmon photo from Salmon Need Water

%d bloggers like this: