Washington poet laureate Claudia Castro Luna, who visited Vancouver earlier this month to give a reading at the downtown community library, has won a $100,000 award from the Academy of American Poets. The award, intended to support an innovative, impactful public poetry project, was one of 13 given to poets serving in official civic-poet and poet-laureate roles around the nation.
Castro Luna, who served as Seattle’s Civic Poet and teaches at Seattle University, will use her award to bring poetry to the entire length of the Columbia River in Washington. According to a statement from her publicist, she’ll convene a series of poetry-writing workshops and readings along the river, from where it enters the northeast corner of Washington state to where it meets the Pacific Ocean.
Castro Luna is the author of “Killing Marias,” a book of poetry about the disappeared women of Juarez, Mexico, and “This City,” a book of poetry about Seattle. She’s the creator of two interactive, map-based poetry projects, the Seattle Poetic Grid and, as of her recent travels at poet laureate, Washington Poetic Routes. She is a native of El Salvador and is currently working on a memoir called “Like Water to Drink,” about her escape from the Salvadoran Civil War.
Castro Luna’s term as Washington poet laureate lasts from February 2018 through January 2020.