The Washington State Poet Laureate serves to build awareness and appreciation of poetry — including Washington’s legacy of poetry — through public readings, workshops, and presentations in communities throughout the state. The position was established in April 2007 when the Washington State Legislature passed a bill that recognized the value of poetry to the culture and heritage of the state. Washington joined several other states in appointing an official state poet laureate position.
Claudia Castro Luna is the Washington State Poet Laureate for 2018-2020. Castro Luna fled war-torn El Salvador for the United States at the age of 14 with her family, and went on to earn an MFA in poetry and an MA in urban planning. After working as a K-12 teacher, she became Seattle’s first Civic Poet, a position appointed by the mayor. In that position, Castro Luna won acclaim for her Seattle Poetic Grid, an online interactive map showcasing poems about different locations around the city. The grid even landed her an interview on PBS NewsHour. She is also the author of the poetry chapbook This City and the collection Killing Marías.
Castro Luna’s term will run from February 1, 2018 to January 31, 2020. She succeeds poets laureate Tod Marshall (2016-2018), Elizabeth Austen (2014–2016), Kathleen Flenniken (2012–2014), and Sam Green (2007–2009).
The Washington State Poet Laureate is appointed by the Governor. The program is jointly sponsored by Humanities Washington and the Washington State Arts Commission (ArtsWA). The position is funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, ArtsWA, and Humanities Washington.
Previous Washington Poets Laureate
Tod Marshall (2016-2018)
Elizabeth Austen (2014 – 2016)
Kathleen Flenniken (2012 – 2014)
Samuel Green (2007 – 2009)