Washington state poet laureate Claudia Castro Luna, seen at Fort Worden’s Wheeler Theater in summer 2019, will give a free online reading Thursday via Northwind Art. (Diane Urbani de la Paz/Peninsula Daily News)

Washington state poet laureate Claudia Castro Luna, seen at Fort Worden’s Wheeler Theater in summer 2019, will give a free online reading Thursday via Northwind Art. (Diane Urbani de la Paz/Peninsula Daily News)

Former, present poets laureate to read work

Special presentation offered free online Thursday

PORT TOWNSEND — Claudia Castro Luna, a kind of midwife for poets and writers across Washington state, will join her compatriot Kathleen Flenniken for an online reading and discussion Thursday night.

The free event, presented by Centrum and Northwind Art, will be at 7 p.m.

To sign up, go to https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/northwindreads.

Both women have served as poets laureate for the Evergreen state, crisscrossing it and inviting people of various ages and backgrounds to try writing a poem.

The women come from different worlds: Luna, born in El Salvador, lives in Seattle, while Flenniken grew up beside the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, where her father worked.

“Between two of them, they’ve got a lot to give around the conversations we’re having in our country,” said Julie Ziegler, executive director of Humanities Washington, cosponsor of the state poet laureate program.

“It’s such a treat for me to read with Claudia,” Flenniken wrote in an email Tuesday.

She’ll read from her new collection “Post Romantic,” and added she’s eager to engage in a chat with her audience.

Luna, after teaching Tuesday, sent a brief email to the Peninsula Daily News to say she’s grateful to be part of Thursday’s reading. Northwind is “a place I love in a town I love,” she wrote.

Luna was appointed poet laureate for 2018-20, and in her travels came to the North Olympic Peninsula several times; when the pandemic began, she agreed to serve a third year.

Her latest book, printed in an accordion-like structure, is “One River, a Thousand Voices” about the beauty, energy and native people of the Columbia River.

Former Washington state poet laureate Kathleen Flenniken will join current poet laureate Claudia Castro Luna for a free reading and discussion online Thursday evening. (Photo courtesy Humanities Washington)

Former Washington state poet laureate Kathleen Flenniken will join current poet laureate Claudia Castro Luna for a free reading and discussion online Thursday evening. (Photo courtesy Humanities Washington)

Flenniken, Washington state poet laureate from 2012-14, also roamed her territory, giving free workshops and readings. She said she’ll read at least one of her own Columbia River poems: “Letter to Rilke,” which travels back and forth in time between the present and her childhood in the 1960s.

Poetry “is so important for people looking to escape, and also to make sense of the world,” Ziegler said.

In its variety, Ziegler believes, anyone can find a blast of inspiration and new perspective.

Humanities Washington, which sponsors the poet laureate along with the Washington State Arts Commission, will announce the 2021-23 appointee in a few weeks, she added.

________

Jefferson County senior reporter Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-417-3509 or durbanidelapaz@peninsuladailynews.com.

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