Poet Wanted

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Tacoma’s current Poet Laureate Kellie Richardson will yield her throne to a successor who is yet to have been selected. City of Tacoma is now taking applications for a new poet laureate to become the City of Destiny’s official muse for the 2019-2021 period. Courtesy of Kellie Richardson
Tacoma’s current Poet Laureate Kellie Richardson will yield her throne to a successor who is yet to have been selected. City of Tacoma is now taking applications for a new poet laureate to become the City of Destiny’s official muse for the 2019-2021 period. Courtesy of Kellie Richardson

Tacoma Arts Commission announces the eighth annual Tacoma Poet Laureate competition, the winner of which will be named Tacoma Poet Laureate for 2019-2021.

The Tacoma Poet Laureate will hold the title for a period of two years, from May 2019 to April 2021, and receive a stipend of $4,000. The individual will actively contribute to and advance Tacoma’s literary community in meaningful ways through readings, performances, workshops, presentations, publications and/or special projects; participate in Tacoma Arts Month each October; and help produce the 2021 Tacoma Poet Laureate ceremony to announce the next poet laureate. The poet laureate is expected to determine the direction, focus and appropriate public components for their term of service.

In keeping with the City of Tacoma’s Equity and Empowerment Initiative, the Tacoma poet laureate should actively strive to engage the breadth of Tacoma’s citizenry, expanding access to the literary arts to underserved/underrepresented audiences including people of different races/ethnicities, ages, sexual orientation and identity, ability, and income.

People who are members of historically disenfranchised racial, ethnic, cultural, and other identity groups are encouraged to apply.

Current Tacoma Poet Laureate Kellie Richardson will curate and host a poetry event at which the winner of this year’s poet laureate competition will be awarded. The event date and location will be announced.

Applicant must live in Pierce County and be actively engaged in Tacoma’s creative community. Staff will verify addresses against official Pierce County map.

Applicant must be a practicing artist, dedicated to producing poetry (in any form, genre, or style) on a regular basis. Applicant must be 18 years or older and cannot be a previous Tacoma poet laureate titleholder. Applicant cannot be a current Tacoma Arts Commission member, City Council member, City of Tacoma staff member, or Tacoma poet laureate selection panel member.

Application deadline: Feb. 18, 11:59 p.m. Apply: https://tacomaarts.submittable.com/submit.

For questions or assistance, please email Naomi Strom-Avila at nstrom-avila@cityoftacoma.org or call (253) 591-5191.

2017-2019 Tacoma Poet Laureate – Kellie Richardson

Kellie Richardson is a writer, artist, and educator born and raised in Tacoma. Her work explores the intersection of race, class, and gender with specific emphasis on themes of love, loss, and longing. She employs both classical poetic forms as well as contemporary mediums such as spoken word. Her work is provocative yet accessible, powerful yet vulnerable. In addition to publishing original work, Richardson created the blog, Brown Betty, in 2012. Brown Betty exists to provide armor and inspiration for real life; a place where commerce and community intersect to cultivate healing. The blog explores the complexities of navigating the human experience, and calls its readers to continue to be inspired to endure and overcome barriers to their happiness. 

Richardson is particularly inspired and called to explore the experiences of women of color, and the intersectionality of identities. In addition to teaching courses at Pacific Lutheran University, Richardson has provided poetry and writing workshops to students from Bryant Montessori to Tacoma Community College. She has performed pieces for the Tacoma Art Museum, The People’s Assembly, UW-Tacoma, Drunken Telegraph, The Tacoma Round, COLORED2017, and many others. 

Richardson’s relationship with Tacoma is defined by transitions and metamorphosis as she has moved from student to professor, child to parent, and, the most critical progression, from onlooker to loving actor. She enters this process as a loving actor looking to continue to give to Tacoma through poetry and the gift of storytelling. As poet laureate, Richardson will persist in her desire to ensure literary arts are both accessible to, and representative of, the diversity in Tacoma.

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