Join us as we welcome the new Washington State Poet Laureate. Current Laureate Rena Priest will "pass the laurel" to the new Laureate Arianne True. Poets from around the state will share poems that speak to our shared places and culture. The Washington State Poet Laureate program is jointly sponsored by the Washington State Arts Commission (ArtsWA) and Humanities Washington. The event is free to attend, but please register here.
Incoming laureate Arianne True is a queer poet and folk artist based in Tacoma, WA, and from the Choctaw and Chickasaw nations. She grew up in the Seattle writing community, nurtured by YouthSpeaks and the Richard Hugo House, and as an adult, has (to her delight) gotten to return and work with young writers in both spaces. She currently teaches with Writers in the Schools, mentors with the Seattle Youth Poet Laureate program and Hugo House's Young Writers Cohort and is a guest lecturer at the University of Washington. Arianne was a 2020 Jack Straw Writer, a 2020-21 Hugo Fellow, and is a proud alum of Hedgebrook and of the MFA program at the Institute of American Indian Arts. For Pride 2021, she was part of the Pride Poets Hotline, writing custom poems for strangers over the phone. She was the inaugural Native Artist-in-Residence at Seattle Repertory Theater (2021-22 season) and received the 2022 Vadon Foundation Fellowship for Native Artists from Artist Trust.
Outgoing laureate Rena Priest is a member of the Lhaq’temish (Lummi) Nation. She was the first Indigenous poet to be the state’s Poet Laureate. Her literary debut, Patriarchy Blues, was honored with the 2018 American Book Award. Her most recent work is Sublime Subliminal. She has taught Comparative Cultural Studies and Contemporary American Issues at Western Washington University and Native American Literature at Northwest Indian College. She lives in Bellingham, Washington. Rena Priest focused 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.