Join us for Volume I of Civic Poet Anastacia-Renee’s Speak to Me! Series

Sunday, December 3, 2017, 1 – 3:30 p.m.
The Black Zone
2301 South Jackson Street, Suite 203
Seattle, WA 98058

Seattle Civic Poet Anastacia-Renee begins the Speak to Me! series, a FREE intergenerational monthly workshop and reading series showcasing emerging and seasoned poets. Speak to Me! Volume I will feature readings by Quenton Baker, Jalayna Carter, Robert Francis Flor, and youth poet Kulana P. Hall. The readings will be followed by an optional 30-minute generative writing workshop lead by Anastacia-Renee.

Featured Poets:

Quenton Baker is a poet and educator from Seattle. His current focus is anti-blackness and the afterlife of slavery. His work has appeared in Jubilat, Vinyl, Apogee, Pinwheel, Poetry Northwest, The James Franco Review, and Cura and in the anthologies Measure for Measure: An Anthology of Poetic Meters and It Was Written: Poetry Inspired by Hip-Hop. He has an MFA in Poetry from the University of Southern Maine and is a two-time Pushcart Prize nominee. He is a 2017 Jack Straw fellow and is the recipient of a James W. Ray Venture Project award from Artist Trust. His first collection, This Glittering Republic, came out from Willow Books in 2016.

Jalayna Carter is a multimedia storyteller living in Seattle, WA. Currently she writes stories for Habitat for Humanity – Seattle King County about the humanity of their homeowners, how they lead varied and resilient lives and what the impact of having basic needs met (like living in a decent place at a sustainable price) can be. Her work has been published in: Third Point Press2Leaf Press and Fig Root Press with forthcoming pieces in Reality Beach and Puerto del Sol. Her work can be found on her website, or sprinkled between memes and pictures of food on her social media channels: @just.jalayna.

Robert Francis Flor is a Seattle native raised in the city’s Central Area and Rainier Valley. His poems appeared in the Raven Chronicles, Soundings Review, the Field of Mirrors anthology (2008) and Poetry on the Bus.  In 2012, several poems were published in two anthologies Voices of the Asian American Experience by the Univ. of Santa Cruz and “Where Are You From?” the Thymos Book Project.  His chapbook “Alaskero Memories” was published in 2016 by Carayan Press.

Youth poet, Kulana P. Hall is an emerging writer and attends Big Picture High School. This is the first time she’ll be sharing her work with the Seattle community.

Anastacia-Renee is the current Seattle Civic Poet and former 2015-17 Poet-in-Residence at Hugo House. She is a hybrid genre writer, workshop facilitator and multivalent performance artist. She is the author of four books: Forget It (Black Radish Books), (v.), (Gramma Press), Answer(Me) (Argus Press), and 26 (Dancing Girl Press) and her poetry, prose and fiction have been published widely.

*Book of the Month: The Racial Imaginary, Writers on Race in the Life of the Mind

Anastacia-Reneé Tolbert selected as Seattle’s next Civic Poet

Tolbert will present at the Mayor’s Arts Awards ceremony,
Thursday, Aug. 31 at 4 p.m.


The Office of Arts & Culture announced Seattle’s next Civic Poet, Anastacia-Reneé Tolbert. She is the former Writer-in-Residence at Richard Hugo House, and a workshop facilitator and multivalent performance artist. Three books by the poet/Tolbert, Forget It (Black Radish Books), (V.) (Gramma Press), and Answer(Me) (Winged City Chapbooks-Argus Press), are forthcoming in 2017. The Civic Poet program celebrates Seattle’s rich literary community, while investing the future of literary arts through community engagement. The program is administered by the city’s Office of Arts & Culture.

“When poetry takes center stage, tension filled spaces become safe literary hubs where community members can gather to share and celebrate the plethora of local, historical, and contemporary voices,” says Anastacia-Reneé. “I’m excited to forge creative new literary paths that lay beyond the standard expectations of poetry.”

Anastacia-Reneé has received writing fellowships from Cave Canem, Hedgebrook, VONA, Artist Trust, and Jack Straw, and a writing residency from Ragdale. She is also the author of numerous books: (V.) (Gramma Press), Forget It (Black Radish Books), 26 (Dancing Girl Press), and Kiss Me Doll Face (Gramma Press). Anastacia-Reneé’s creative repertoire includes the field of installation art, as well as writing, producing and directing 9 Ounces: A One Woman Show. Her work has appeared in many publications including Painted Bride Quarterly, Crab Creek Review, Seattle Review, Revise The Psalm: Work Celebrating the Writing of Gwendolyn Brooks, Duende, The Volta and Torch.

The two-year Civic Poet post serves as a cultural ambassador for Seattle’s rich, multi-hued literary landscape and represents Seattle’s diverse cultural community. In addition to five annual performances, the Civic Poet will also complete hands-on work with communities to engage constituents city-wide. Seattle’s Civic Poet will serve a term of two years, from August 2017 to August 2019, and will receive a $10,000 stipend distributed over the two-year term.

Photograph by Stanton Stephens.

Seattle is searching for the next Civic Poet

2017 Civic Poet call opens February 27, 2017

Photo by Marcus R. Donner © 2015

SEATTLE (Feb. 27, 2017) — Mayor Ed Murray announced today that the city is searching for the next Civic Poet. The Civic Poet program celebrates Seattle’s rich literary community, while investing the future of literary arts through community engagement. The call for the 2017 Civic Poet opens Monday, February 27 and will close Monday, April 24, 2017 at 11 p.m. The Civic Poet program is administered by the city’s Office of Arts & Culture.

“Seattle is one of the most well-read cities in the country. From libraries to book stores, from universities to literary organizations, Seattle is passionate about language,” says Randy Engstrom, director, Seattle Office of Arts & Culture. “The Civic Poet program celebrates our history and commitment to the written and spoken word, and the people who have given it such a place of honor in our city.”

The two-year Civic Poet post serves as a cultural ambassador for Seattle’s rich, multi-hued literary landscape and represents Seattle’s diverse cultural community. In addition to five annual performances, the Civic Poet will also complete hands-on work with communities to engage constituents city-wide.

Seattle’s Civic Poet will serve a term of two years, from July 2017 to July 2019, and will receive a $10,000 stipend distributed over the two-year term. Applicants must be Seattle-based and eligible to work in the U.S. and have a demonstrated interest in civic engagement and the power of the written and spoken word.

“The position of Civic Poet is an extraordinary opportunity to promote the power and beauty of poetry as a change agent in our lives, to invite others to write poems that give voice and empower, to collaborate with a myriad organizations, and contribute to Seattle’s rich literary landscape,” says Civic Poet Claudia Castro Luna.

A selection panel composed of writing and literary professionals and community representatives will review materials from all applicants. Those who are selected as finalists will be invited a panel interview for final selection.

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The Poets Are In! Reading at the Central Library with Seattle Civic Poet Claudia Castro Luna and friends

 Saturday, April 23, 2016, 2 – 4 p.m.
Seattle Central Library, Level 1, Microsoft Auditorium


SEATTLE (April 19, 2016) — The Poets Are In! is an intergenerational reading featuring Seattle’s Civic Poet, Youth Poet Laureate and friends on Saturday, April 23 from 2 – 4 p.m. at the Seattle Central Library, Level 1, Microsoft Auditorium. Hear six poets share what it means to live, love and remember in the Emerald City. Civic Poet, Claudia Castro Luna, Youth Poet Laureate Leija Farr and Anastacia Rene’e Tolbert, Alan Chong Lau, and youth poets Maya Chinen and Max Taylor will share individual work and together create a poetic cartography of Seattle.

The reading celebrates National Poetry Month and marks the inaugural reading of The Poet Is In!, Claudia Castro Luna’s tenure as artist-in-residence at the Seattle Public Library. Castro Luna will lead month-long interactive poetic explorations in a number of branches inspired by the everyday life of a neighborhood. At least one branch in each quadrant of the city will host a session with the Civic Poet.

About the Poets:

Claudia Castro Luna, Seattle’s first Civic Poet was born in El Salvador. She has a MA in Urban Planning, a teaching certificate and an MFA in poetry from Mills College. She writes because the flesh remembers even when the mind forgets and moving the hand across a page is a measure of resistance. Her poems have appeared in Riverbabble, the Taos Journal of Poetry and Art and are forthcoming in Poetry Northwest and Dialogo. She is working on a memoir about her experience escaping the Salvadoran Civic War; an excerpt of which appears in the 2014 Jack Straw Writers Anthology.

Maya Chinen, a first-year student at Seattle University, is pursuing degrees in both Environmental Studies and Spanish. She grew up on south Beacon Hill and began her walk with the spoken-word in a classroom on First Hill. She continues her writing today through creative non-fiction and page-poetry.

The first ever Youth Poet Laureate in Seattle history, Leija Farr became serious with poetry after winning a spoken word contest as 12 years old with a poem on teens and drugs. Since then, she has grown mentally and physically through open mics across the city.

A poet and visual artist, Alan Chong Lau is the recipient of numerous awards, and his poems have been widely anthologized. He is the author of four books of poetry, most recently Blues and Greens: A Produce Worker’s Journal and no hurry. He serves as Arts Editor for the International Examiner.

Queer super-shero of color moonlighting as a writer, performance artist and creative writing workshop facilitator, Anastacia Rene’e Tolbert has received awards and fellowships from Cave Canem, Hedgebrook, VONA, Jack Straw, Ragdale and Artist Trust. She was recently selected as the 2015-16 Writer-in-Residence at Hugo House, a place for writers in Seattle. Her chapbook 26 was published by Dancing Girl Press. Her poetry and fiction have been published in Literary Orphans, Bitterzoet, Radius Poetry, Seattle Review, Duende, Bone Bouquet, Dressing Room Poetry and many more.

Max Taylor is most often seen residing at his house in Wallingford or stroking his chin at the front row of an open mic. He is graduating this year as a senior at Roosevelt High School, but takes advantage of Washington’s Running Start program to take his classes at North Seattle College. He finds his passion in poetry and performance art and hopes to develop his writing wherever the future may take him.

Library events and programs are free and everyone is welcome. Registration is not required. This event will be recorded for future podcast.

*Central Library 206-386-4636 or Ask a Librarian

Space is limited at library events. Please come early to make sure you get a seat. Due to the fire code, we can’t exceed the maximum capacity for our rooms.

Invitation, by Claudia Castro Luna, Civic Poet

Read for Ampersand Live at Town Hall – November 12, 2015 


I invite you to come along on a bicycle ride the whip of the green river early September when its water teems with pink salmon and bank anglers dream their fishy dreams and you…rolling past wishing slack tide for the anglers and flood tide for the fish.

I invite you to lie on a blanket stretched under the heart shaped leaves of a Little Leaf Linden tree. Let breath yield to grass, branch, bark, release unaware your secret lusts. Pistil and stamen, flutter of wings, legs in shorts, vegetable sap. Ecology of desire, mid-summer heat, Volunteer Park.

I invite you to caramel city. A place where every cash register displays hand rolled,
hand-wrapped or neatly packed salted caramels luring your will power to ruin.

I invite you out to breakfast 6:30 am, Fisherman’s Terminal, fried oysters and a pile of hash browns. Between the large windows and boats ensconced in fog, invisible to the naked eye, marked only by a column, the architecture of life-times made and lost at sea.

I invite you to Alki point, a una noche de verano, mar y arena, luna y estrellas, suave
el aire sobre tu faz.

I invite you to buck the trend. Next time you pass someone by, resist the unfriendly pull
– don’t look away or down. Kaput indifference. Melt the freeze. Breach the gap.

I invite you to stand on a South Beacon Hill bus stop on a vaporous and chilly 40 something rainy winter’s day, and wait and wait and wait for a bus that’s again late, late, late.

I invite you to a house renovation project where your only job is to order the paint and so you visit a SODO paint store where fifteen minutes go by and no one behind the counter bothers to greet you, you don’t even get a sideways glance – others get called, receive their orders, ask questions. A large sign announces “Color Trends.” Invisibility is no paranormal trick on your part. You don’t ever choose to make yourself invisible. “Hey!” you want to shout, “Do you all want fries with that?”

I invite you to a party in Ballard where a woman expresses regret at hearing the news you’re moving to the south west corner of the map, “We’ll never see you again,” she says in a self congratulatory way. What you say is, “Oh, there is a whole bunch of us living down there having a good time, you should come down some time.” What you don’t say is, “Hey, do you want fries with that?”

I invite you to shop for grapes. “Taste the red ones,” says the man stocking produce.
You lean in to grab a bag …”NO! not those,” he says concerned, “Those are organic –
the regular ones are here!” pointing to a different stack. Taken aback you say nothing.
But you want to say, “Hey, do you want fries with that?”

I invite you to orbit emerald chaos at the Seattle Center satellite fountain. Watch water
then fall sparkle and splash, the way you wish your doubts would simply crash.

I invite you to Hillman City where strangers turn to greet you, sometimes with a smile.
I see you their gesture says, you, You, YOU. Tall oaks line this stretch of Rainier Avenue and leaves trail/splutter/flap after the 7 rambling downtown leaving behind periphery and heart.

Claudia Castro Luna