Washington Poet Laureate to kick off Foothills Writers Series

PORT ANGELES — Claudia Castro Luna, a Seattle-based poet, teacher and Washington State Poet Laureate, will read from her work at 12:35 p.m. Friday.

The reading will be in Peninsula College’s Maier Performance Hall, 1502 E. Lauridsen Blvd., Port Angeles.

Castro Luna is the author of the Pushcart-nominated “Killing Marías” (Two Sylvias Press) and “This City” (Floating Bridge Press). She served as Seattle’s Civic Poet from 2015-17 and is the creator of the Seattle Poetic Grid.

Her non-fiction work appears in several anthologies, including “This Is The Place: Women Writing About Home” (Seal Press). She is currently working on a memoir, “Like Water to Drink,” about her experience escaping the civil war in El Salvador.

Since 2009, she has maintained Cipota bajo la Luna, a blog with reflections, writing and reviews. Her visit is made possible by Humanities Washington.

The presentation marks the first of four Foothills Writers Series readings that will be offered free to the public this quarter.

The series, which has been in existence since the early 1970s and has hosted Pulitzer Prize winning poets and renowned fiction writers, has been folded into the Studium Generale series for the past few years.

Find more information at www.arts.wa.gov/arts-in-communities/washington-state-poet-laureate.

The Washington State Poet Laureate program is jointly sponsored by Humanities Washington and the Washington State Arts Commission (ArtsWA).

Poets laureate work to build awareness and appreciation of poetry-including the state’s legacy of poetry-through public readings, workshops, lectures, and presentations in communities throughout the state.

Laureates are selected through an application and panel review process that evaluates candidates’ proposed project plans, writing acumen, and experience promoting poetry.

The finalists for the 2018-20 laureate position included prominent blues poet Gary Copeland Lilley, City of Redmond poet laureate and Stranger Genius Award-winner Shin Yu Pai, and Floating Bridge Press Chapbook Award-winning poet Michael Schmeltzer.

As the first immigrant and woman of color to assume the role, Castro Luna will advocate for poetry during a particularly fraught period for both the humanities (the current administration proposed eliminating the National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities early this year) and immigrant populations, who are confronting uncertainty in the face of travel bans and heated rhetoric.

“This is so much more than an honorary position,” said Julie Ziegler, executive director of Humanities Washington.

“It’s very hard work, particularly in an era when our country is profoundly divided. The poet laureate gives a lot of him or herself, traveling thousands of miles back and forth across the state to reach the widest range of people possible.”

Said Castro Luna: “It is a profound honor to serve the state of Washington as the next poet laureate. I look forward to continuing the legacy of my predecessors, to engaging with a broad spectrum of communities across the state and to maintaining appreciation for, and contributing to, our rich poetic heritage.”

For more information, contact Kate Reavey at [email protected].

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