Today Mayor Ed Murray announced Seattle’s first Civic Poet, Claudia Castro Luna. The new Civic Poet post serves as an ambassador for Seattle’s rich literary landscape and represents the city’s diverse cultural community.
“Claudia brings a fresh perspective and a deep commitment to engaging the community through her poetry,” said Mayor Murray. “We are a literary city and we’re excited to have an accomplished poet that will celebrate and inspire us through her creativity.”
Castro Luna will perform at the 2015 and 2016 Mayor’s Art Awards, in addition to five community performances and workshops throughout the city. She will serve a two year term from August 2015 to August 2017, receiving a $10,000 stipend. The Civic Poet program is administered by the city’s Office of Arts & Culture.
“I thank Mayor Murray and Office of Arts & Culture Director Randy Engstrom for creating Seattle’s Civic Poet program,” said Councilmember Nick Licata, “a post inaugurated by the Poet Populist program in 1999. Claudia’s poems ‘Wake’ and ‘Choking My Vernacular,’ performed during one of the Council’s 2013 Words’ Worth readings, were moving and I am pleased to welcome her as our first Civic Poet. Words can change the world and no one knows the power of words better than a poet.”
Castro Luna was born in El Salvador and came to the U.S. as a young teenager fleeing civil war. Since then she has completed a Master of Arts in Urban Planning, a teaching degree, and a Master of Fine Arts in poetry.
Castro Luna is a K-12 certified teacher with a passion for arts education and teaching immigrants. In 2012, she earned a Master of Fine Arts 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. Castro Luna is also writing a memoir, an excerpt of which appears in the 2014 Jack Straw Writers’ Anthology. She writes and teaches in Seattle, where she gardens and raises chickens with her husband and their three children.
Additionally, Castro Luna will participate in the Seattle Public Library’s Sharing Our Voices project. The Library will commission three original poems, record Castro Luna reading her poems and record an oral interview with her identifying the inspiration and creation process inherent in poetry. The recordings will be added to the Library collection.