Tacoma’s Looking for a New Poet Laureate

By Henry Stewart-Wood

[Read in excited 1950s radio voice] Hi Tacoma! Are you a poet? Do you know someone who is? Do you love Tacoma? Boy, do I have the opportunity for you. 

As Abby Murray’s term as Tacoma’s Poet Laureate comes to an end, the Tacoma Arts Commission is accepting applications for Tacoma’s next Poet Laureate for 2021-2023. It doesn’t matter what form, style, or genre your poetry takes. Even if your work isn’t strictly poetry, you’re welcome to apply as long as your work intersects with poetry. You can read more about Abby Murray’s role as Poet Laureate here.

I think a lot of the time poetry goes underappreciated in daily life, it’s not something we talk about the way we talk about music, news, or TV. Poet laureates can bring poetry and literary arts to the forefront of our collective consciousness and give a deeper meaning to our shared experiences. 

Amanda Gorman, the U.S. youth Poet Laureate, made this abundantly clear when she recited her poem “The Hill We Climb” during president Biden’s inauguration. Gorman demonstrated the power of the poet laureate and had what felt like the nation’s undivided attention in a week packed with news. 

Now’s your chance to have that same type of impact on a local level. The job comes with a $4,000 stipend and an additional $1,000 project budget. Tacoma’s Poet Laureate is meant to stimulate public engagement in the literary arts in all communities across the city. 

The Tacoma Arts Commission will prioritize applicants who can address justice, equity, inclusion, and access as well as those who can engage with communities that have been historically underrepresented. 

Some of the duties of the laureate include offering public workshops, participating in Tacoma Arts Month each October, and advancing Tacoma’s literary community through readings and other events. While the duties are fairly clear cut, the impact on our community you could have as the poet laureate is infinite. The deadline for applications is February 1st. You can submit your application here.

If that sounds like something you or someone you know is interested in we encourage you to apply or tell a friend.

Postcard photo courtesy of Tacoma Public Library’s Northwest Room.

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