Civic Poet

Civic Poet 2019-22: Jourdan Imani Keith

2019-21 Civic Poet Jourdan Imani Keith speaking at a podium in front of a Seattle Office of Arts & Culture banner.

Jourdan Imani Keith, outgoing Seattle Civic Poet; photo by Marcus R. Donner

Jourdan Imani Keith, a student of Sonia Sanchez, is a poet, essayist, playwright, naturalist, and activist. Her writing blends the textures of political, personal, and natural landscapes to offer voices from the margins of American lives.  

A recipient of the 2018 Americans for the Arts award, her TEDx Talk, Your Body of Water became the theme for King County's 2016-2018 Poetry on Buses program. Her Orion Magazine essays, Desegregating Wilderness and At Risk were selected by Rebecca Skloot for the 2015 Best American Science and Nature Writing Anthology. A keeper of culture and history in the Griot (gree-oh) storytelling tradition, her ekphrastic poems were commissioned by the Northwest African American Museum to be featured as oversized text on its walls during its Glass Orchidarium exhibit. Keith's creation myth, We Were All Water was commissioned by Seattle Art Museum for a featured performance at the REMIX 

She has been awarded fellowships from Hedgebrook, Wildbranch, Santa Fe Science Writing workshop, VONA, and Jack Straw. As Seattle Public Library's first naturalist-in-Residence, she designed "Natural Literacy,"  a curriculum linking environmental and early childhood literacy. Keith is the founder and director of the gender, ethnicity, and environmental justice organization, Urban Wilderness Project. She's received awards from the University of Washington, Artist Trust, 4Culture, and Seattle's Office of Arts and Culture. Her memoir in essays, Tugging at the Web is forthcoming from the University of Washington Press. 

Past Civic Poets

Anastacia-Renée Tolbert Anastacia-Renée is a multi-genre writer, educator, and interdisciplinary artist. She was the Seattle Civic Poet from 2017-2019, is a recipient of the 2018 James W. Ray Distinguished Artist award for Washington artists (Artist Trust), 2017 Artist of the Year and former 2015-2017 Poet-in-Residence at Hugo House.

She is the author of five books: Forget It (Black Radish Books), (v.), (Gramma Press) 26, (Dancing Girl Press), Kiss Me Doll Face (Gramma Press) and Answer(Me) (Winged City Chapbooks, Argus Press) and has received writing fellowships and residencies from Cave Canem, Hedgebrook, VONA, Artist Trust, Jack Straw, Ragdale, Mineral School and Hypatia in the Woods. 

Her cross-genre writing has appeared in a TEDx talk and the anthologies: Women of Resistance: Poems for a New Feminism, Sinister Wisdom: Black Lesbians-We Are the Revolution, Revise the Psalm: Work Celebrating the Writing of Gwendolyn Brooks and: Ms. Magazine, Split this Rock, Painted Bride Quarterly, Crab Creek Review, Seattle Review, The Fight & the Fiddle, Duende, Poetry Northwest, Synaethesia, Banqueted, Torch, Mom Egg Review, The Magazine of Glamorous Refusal and many more. She teaches poetry, creative writing and "How to be an Effective Ally," workshops at Hugo House, libraries, universities, and high schools.

http://msmagazine.com/blog/2018/08/07/ms-muse-anastacia-renee-poems-living-body-women-writers-need-raising-fist/  

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/the-deep-end-friends-podcast/id1307856295?mt=2
The Deep End Podcast with Reagan Jackson  

https://fightandfiddle.com/  

https://soundcloud.com/junkpodcast/anastacia-renee-tolbert-harron-walker-matt-ortile

Claudia Castro LunaClaudia Castro Luna's muse is the city, from little libraries and food trucks to the green tunnels of Lincoln Park.

Claudia left her native El Salvador at the age of 14 escaping the Civil War with her family. Resilient to the low expectations of high school counselors, she went on to study Anthropology and French at the University of California Irvine and earned an MA in Urban Planning from UCLA. Fluent in German, she is a K-12 certified teacher with a passion for arts education and teaching immigrants.

In 2012 she earned an MFA in poetry from Mills College. She was a 2014 Jack Straw fellow and is a recent recipient of a King County 4Culture grant. Her poems have appeared in Milvia Street, The Womanist, Riverbabble, and forthcoming in the Taos Journal of Poetry and Art. She has been a featured reader for the Berkeley Poetry Festival and for NPR-affiliate KALW. Claudia is also writing a memoir, an excerpt of which appears in the 2014 Jack Straw Writers' Anthology. Living in English and Spanish, Claudia writes and teaches in Seattle where she gardens and keeps chickens with her husband and their three children.

You can learn more about Claudia on her blog or follow her on Twitter.

Seattle Poetic Grid 

Seattle Civic Poet, Claudia Castro Luna, launches a poetry map of the city. Seattle Poetic Grid (http://www.seattlepoeticgrid.com) is an interactive poetic cartography of the city and a culmination of Castro Luna's two-year Civic Poet residency. The Grid brings Seattle's poetic side to light. The project is intended to remain as a living testament of the city, and includes a link for those who would like to make their poetic contributions.

In addition, Claudia participated in the Seattle Public Library's Sharing Our Voices project. The Library commissioned three original poems, recorded Luna reading her poems and recorded an oral interview with her identifying the inspiration and creation process inherent in poetry. The recordings will be added to the Library collection.

Poems

About the Seattle Civic Poet Program

The Seattle Office of Arts & Culture (ARTS), in partnership with the Seattle City of Literature, commissions and supports an experienced poet for a two-year residency to serve as a literary ambassador for Seattle. The Civic Poet will serve as a cultural ambassador for Seattle's rich, multi-hued literary landscape and will represent Seattle's diverse cultural community. In addition to annual City events, the Civic Poet will foster community dialogue and engagement between the City, the public, and other artists, while celebrating the literary arts. 

Launched in 2015, the Seattle Civic Poet program is inspired by the previous Poet Populist program instituted in 1999 by Seattle City Councilmember Nick Licata. The goal of the Poet Populist program was to support the practice of literary arts, and democracy, and to promote local literary arts organizations to a general audience citywide. The Poet Populist program was discontinued in 2008. The Civic Poet program continues the legacy of the Poet Populist program by fostering community dialogue and engagement between the public and artists while celebrating the literary arts.