Washington State Poet Laureate
Washington State Poet Laureate Rena Priest at a 2022 public event.
Claudia Castro Luna, Laureate from 2018-2021, reads a poem at Arts, Heritage and Science Day.

About the Washington State Poet Laureate Program

Washington State Poet Laureate LogoThe Washington State Poet Laureate program is jointly sponsored by Humanities Washington and the Washington State Arts Commission (ArtsWA). Nominations for the 2023-25 Washington State Poet Laureate are now open. Self-nominations are accepted and encouraged.

The Washington State Poet Laureate builds awareness and appreciation of poetry through public readings, workshops, lectures, and presentations. Laureates perform this work in culturally and geographically diverse communities throughout the state.

Washington State Poets Laureate represent some of the best and most generous of Washington poets. The duties of the Laureate require public interaction, some travel, and a willingness to undertake a project of the Laureate’s choosing during their two-year term. Past Laureates report that they grew in unique and significant ways as artists, advanced their careers, and appreciated the opportunity to meet new people and learn about the entire state.

Inaugural Washington State Poet Laureate Samuel Green reading at the Washington State House of Representatives in 2009.

Overview

 

  • The Washington State Legislature passed a bill in 2007 to establish the Washington State Poet Laureate program. The bill recognized the value of poetry to the state’s culture and heritage.
  • The Governor appoints the Laureate based on recommendations from a geographically and culturally diverse panel of representatives from Washington’s arts, humanities and literary communities.
  • Once appointed, ArtsWA and Humanities Washington provide funding for the honorarium ($40,000 annually), travel and project expenses, and administrative support for the Laureate.
  • The Laureate serves a two-year term, renewable in rare circumstances.
  • The 2023-2025 Laureate’s term begins April 15, 2023.

Click here to learn more about past Washington State Poets Laureate. Scroll down for the current Laureate Rena Priest.

Nominations now open for the next Washington State Poet Laureate

Important Dates

Please note: these dates may be subject to adjustment.

2022-2023

  • Poet Laureate Nomination Opens: October 24, 2022
  • Poet Laureate Nomination Closes: December 2, 2022
  • Notification of nomination status on or by: January 12, 2023
  • Nomination Finalists’ interviews with panel: January 18, 2023
  • The 2023-25 Poet Laureate’s term begins: April 15, 2023

Eligibility

To be eligible for the Washington State Poet Laureate, a nominee must:

  • Have significantly contributed to the poetic legacy of Washington State and show demonstrable commitment to serving as an ambassador for poetry to audiences throughout Washington State
  • Be a current Washington State resident and reside primarily in Washington State
  • Not be a previous Washington State Poet Laureate
  • Please note: Self-nominations are accepted and encouraged

Video: information session

This video reviews recent changes to the program, timelines, and more.

Video: how to nominate

This video walks you through the nomination process for the Washington State Poet Laureate.

About Rena Priest, Washington’s current Poet Laureate


Rena Priest became the sixth Washington State Poet Laureate on April 14, 2021, and her term will run until March 31, 2023. A member of the Lhaq’temish (Lummi) Nation, Priest will be the first Indigenous poet to be the state’s Poet Laureate. Priest’s literary debut, Patriarchy Blues, was honored with the 2018 American Book Award, and her most recent work is Sublime Subliminal. She succeeds Claudia Castro Luna, the previous poet laureate. Priest’s literary debut, Patriarchy Blues, was honored with the 2018 American Book Award, and her most recent work is Sublime Subliminal. Priest’s work can be found in Poetry NorthwestPontoon Poetry, Verse Daily, Poem-a-Day at Poets.org, and elsewhere.

She has taught Comparative Cultural Studies and Contemporary American Issues at Western Washington University and Native American Literature at Northwest Indian College. Priest holds a BA in English from Western Washington University and an MFA in Writing from Sarah Lawrence College. She lives in Bellingham, Washington.

Each laureate puts their own unique focus on the position, and Priest focuses on two primary goals during her term: celebrating poetry in Washington’s tribal communities, and using poetry to increase appreciation of the natural world and the threats facing it.

Read Priest’s blog at wapoetlaureate.org, and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

Interested in hosting Rena Priest for a reading, workshop, or other event?

News and updates

 

Washington State Poet Laureate Rena Priest is one of 22 Academy of American Poets Fellows.

Britt Madsen

Questions?

 

Britt Madsen, Grants To Organizations (GTO) Program Specialist, and ArtsWA lead for the Washington State Poet Laureate program.

Phone: 360-485-1509

Email: britt.madsen@arts.wa.gov

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