Announcing Arianne True as the Next Washington State Poet Laureate

A member of the Choctaw and Chickasaw nations, True has dedicated years to teaching and mentoring young poets around the Salish Sea.

We’re excited to announce that poet Arianne True has been appointed the next Washington State Poet Laureate by Governor Jay Inslee.

A member of the Choctaw and Chickasaw nations, True has dedicated years to teaching and mentoring young poets around the Salish Sea. Arianne has received fellowships from Jack Straw Cultural Arts, Hugo House, and Artist Trust. She is an alum of Hedgebrook and the MFA program at the Institute of American Indian Arts and was recently the Seattle Repertory Theater’s first Native Artist-in-Residence.  

“I’m so excited to step into this role and get to meet folks all over our state for the next two years,” says True. “I really believe poetry is for everyone, and I hope to help more folks see poetry as a resource that’s always there for them, something that they know how to access and feel they have a right to.” 

Her two-year term officially begins May 1, 2023. She will succeed Rena Priest (2021-2023), the current poet laureate. Prior to Priest, the position was held by Claudia Castro Luna (2018-2021), Tod Marshall (2016-2018), Elizabeth Austen (2014–2016), Kathleen Flenniken (2012–2014), and Sam Green (2007–2009). During her tenure, she hopes to create an anthology of poetry from queer people in both urban and rural areas throughout the state. 

“The Poet Laureate position is not just ceremonial,” says Julie Ziegler, executive director of Humanities Washington. “It involves traveling throughout the state and meeting thousands of people each year, showing that poetry can bring real meaning to people’s lives and communities. Arianne has already shown her dedication through her mentoring work, and we’re very excited about her appointment.”  

The Washington State Poet Laureate program is jointly sponsored by Humanities Washington and the Washington State Arts Commission (ArtsWA). Poets laureate work to build awareness and appreciation of poetry—including the state’s legacy of poetry—through public readings, workshops, lectures, and presentations in communities throughout the state.  

“Poetry is a living, dynamic art form that defies boundaries and categories,” said Karen Hanan, executive director of ArtsWA. “Arianne does more than recognize poetry’s potential—she embodies its welcoming spirit. Through her teaching, community engagement, and her own poetic practice, Arianne has shown an extraordinary ability to open the world of poetry up to all kinds of people.” 

Laureates are selected through a nomination and panel review process that evaluates candidates’ poetry practice, commitment to reaching diverse communities, and experience promoting poetry.

Join Humanities Washington and ArtsWA for “The Passing of the Laurel,” a celebration of Arianne’s appointment and a farewell to Rena Priest as laureate. Rena will “pass the laurel” to Arianne, and Washington poets—and former poets laureate—will read. The event will happen in-person and be also livestreamed.  

When: Thursday, May 4, 2023, 7:00 p.m.  

Where: Washington State History Museum, Mount Tahoma Auditorium  

Cost: Free  

Register to attend here > 

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