For the third year in a row this January I will have the honor to present a poem on the Senate’s first day of the Legislative Session. It is a solemn occasion and a memorable one. To be in Olympia in the grand Capitol building with all members of the Senate present, to witness the Presentation of Colors and to watch our Lieutenant Governor open the Session for the year at hand, to watch our democracy in action is something to cherish.
This year marks my third carrying out this honor because Governor Inslee extended my my term as Washington State’s Poet Laureate to January 2021. I accepted the extension with humility, respect and joy. I am well aware of the tremendous commitment the position requires and was overcome with gratitude that our Governor valued my work to entrust me with another year.
On the horizon are four months of exciting travel as I finish the four stops remaining in my State-wide project, One River, Many Voices. In January the poet Maureen McQueery will join me in the Trick-Cities where among readings and workshops I will also attend the Poetry Out-Loud Competition at the Kennewick Library on Thursday January 23rd. In February I will visit several cities in Clark County including Washougal, Camas, Ridgefield and Vancouver. Clark County’s Poet Laureate, Gwendolyn Morgan and Oregon’s State Poet Laureate Kim Stafford, will join me for a reading at the Vancouver Library on February 22nd. In March I will be in White Salmon and at the Maryhill Museum, and in April I will visit Wahkiakum County to meet the Columbia River as it heads into the Pacific Ocean.
At each of these stops I will read with local poets, visit classrooms and read from the book-length poem, One River, a Thousand Voices, which I was able to print thanks to a Kickstarter Campaign to which many of you donated. Thank you again and again for your support. I hope to soon distribute the book to all library districts across the state.
I look forward to meeting for the first time and encountering anew many of you at each of these stops, and to another year of singing back to the world what the world signs to us each day.
“Aslan’s Song” –Ethereal Art by Katey Elise