Submitted by the Lopez Island Library
The Lopez Island Library welcomes our new Washington State Poet Laureate, Claudia Castro Luna. The Washington state Poet Laureate program is jointly sponsored by Humanities Washington and ArtsWA. Poets laureate work to build awareness and appreciation of poetry through public readings, workshops, lectures and presentations in communities throughout the state. As the first immigrant and woman of color to assume the role, Castro Luna will be advocating for poetry during a particularly fraught period for both the humanities and immigrant populations. Castro Luna will lead three programs at the Lopez Library. Two programs will be held on Thursday, April 26: a free poetry workshop from 2 – 4 p.m. in the library community room and a reading and lecture at 7 p.m. by the library fireside. These programs will be conducted in English. For our Spanish-speaking community, Castro Luna will lead an interactive Poetry Walk for families from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. on Sunday, April 29, at Odlin Park. This program will be conducted in Spanish and is co-sponsored by San Juan County Parks.
Castro Luna fled war-torn El Salvador for the United States at the age of 14 with her family, and went on to earn an MFA in poetry and an MA in urban planning. After working as a K-12 teacher, she became Seattle’s first Civic Poet, a position appointed by the mayor. In that position, Castro Luna won acclaim for her Seattle Poetic Grid, an online interactive map of showcasing poems about different locations around the city. She is the author of the poetry chapbook “This City” and the collection Killing Marías. While fleeing El Salvador with her parents and sister in 1981, her father insisted on bringing a cumbersome box of books—including works on mathematics, social science and language. Her rediscovery of the box in her attic years later prompted her to write a short story for Humanities Washington’s Bedtime Stories event in 2015 about the importance of literature in forming identity, much of which will be included in a memoir she is writing on her escape from the Salvadoran Civil War.
We are grateful to the Friends of the Lopez Island Library, Humanities Washington and ArtsWA for bringing Castro Luna to Lopez Island.