This evening, Wednesday, April 14, 2021, at 6:00pm Pacific, you are invited to celebrate Rena Priest’s appointment by Governor Jay Inslee as Washington State’s 6th Poet Laureate. This very special event is organized and hosted by the Lhaq’temish (Lummi) Nation, Humanities Washington, ArtsWA (the WA State Arts Commission), and the Washington Center for the Book. Past Laureates Claudia Castro Luna, Tod Marshall, Elizabeth Austen, Kathleen Flenniken, and Sam Green (in absentia) will be honored guests as we gather to pass the laurel in an evening of poetry, speech, and song. Produced by Children of the Setting Sun Productions.

Register here.

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?

Olympia two-fer

September 11, 2019

The Olympia Poetry Network (OPN) invites your participation in a weekend of laureate poetry, LaureateFest.

On Saturday, September 21, 2019, 1:00-3:00pm, there will be a panel discussion with Washington State Poets Laureate Samuel Green, Kathleen Flenniken, Elizabeth Austen, Tod Marshall, and Claudia Castro Luna. That evening, beginning at 7:00pm, there will be a LaureateFest reading. Both events are free and will be held at Norman Worthington Conference Center, Saint Martin’s University.

On Sunday, September 22, Elizabeth Austen will conduct a workshop, “The Title as Frame and Invitation,” 11:00am-1:00pm, at Heart Of The Deernicorn studio in downtown Olympia. Workshop is limited to 20 participants and registration is required.

Washington needs you

June 20, 2019

Do you have an abundance of energy, creativity, time, patience, and poetry smarts? If so, you could be the next Washington State Poet Laureate.

Humanities Washington and the Washington State Arts Commission (ArtsWA) are accepting applications 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 January 16, 2020, to January 15, 2022.

The deadline to apply is July 26, 2019.

View application guidelines here.

Pictured, from left, recent Washington Poets Laureate Tod Marshall, Claudia Castro Luna, Elizabeth Austen, Kathleen Flenniken. (Not shown: Samuel Green)

Saturday in Seattle

October 12, 2018

Celebrate with the winners and finalists of this year’s Washington State Book Awards at the Central Library in Seattle on Saturday, October 13, 2018, 7:00pm.

The awards honor up to eight titles by Washington authors: one work each of fiction, poetry, biography/memoir, and history/general nonfiction for adults; one picture book for children, and one book each for early readers, middle readers, and young adults. Have a look at this year’s list of finalists.

The awards ceremony will begin with the announcement of the winners followed by brief readings from the winning titles. There will also be special readings from WA129, the anthology assembled by Washington poet laureate Tod Marshall. The evening’s emcee is poet and novelist Karen Finneyfrock. A reception, book sales and signing will follow in the Central Library Living Room on Level 3. Both the awards ceremony and the reception are free and open to all. University Book Store will have books available for purchase during the reception and author signing.

tomorrow in Winthrop!

May 10, 2018

Tomorrow at 5:30pm, you’re invited to join Tod Marshall, Paul Nelson, Judy Kleinberg, and friends for a poetry reading at Trail’s End Bookstore in Winthrop, Washington. Hope to see you there!

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.

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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