First Indigenous State Laureate appointed in April

Joshua Smith , Staff Reporter

“Oh, poetry! Poetry is bright stars

In the branches, moonlight on the grass,

And silent wings to take me wherever I go.”

Excerpt from Daniel Finds a Poem by Micha Archer


Every year, April comes and goes and National Poetry Month comes and goes with it. However, this April, Washington appointed a new State Poet Laureate Rena Priest with a mission to spread poetry across the state for all to appreciate. 

Photo Courtesy of Dayne Patterson

The first Indigenous person to ever hold the title, Priest is hoping to help Washington residents return to their roots through verse and poetic wisdom. She received the American Book Award for her work “Patriarchy Blues” in 2018 and has since published another book “Sublime Subliminal.” 

According to, Priest has two objectives she hopes to accomplish during her two-year tenure as poet laureate: “celebrating poetry in Washington’s tribal communities and using poetry to increase appreciation of the natural world and the threats facing it.”

However, Priest is not the only poet Washington has to offer. Dayna Patterson, Peggy Barnett, E. Briskin, Catherine Bull, Thom Caraway, Charles Castle, Xavier Cavazos and more published poets have work ready to be digested by readers.

Dayna Patterson

Patterson, a self-described Writer, Editor and Wordwitch, believes poetry is a connector of souls. 

“Poetry connects people, on a deep human level, across time and distance,” Patterson said “Like all art, it reveals. It knits us together as a species. It’s essential.”

Patterson plays with mixed-media incorporating poetry into embroidery, which she affectionately calls “poembroideries.”

But Washington poetry is not limited to those recognized by professional publications. CWU is a bustling hub of wordsmiths whose witty couplets, rhythmic rhymes and titillating alliterations are born from student experience. 

Joseph Powell, Jen Lynn, Adrija Basu, Emily Page Wilson, Diego Garcia and Oliver Beck are students who were recently featured in At Home with Poetry: A Live Reading Celebrating National Poetry Month hosted by Marie Marchand and Gabby Triana along with CWU Librarian Gerard Hogan.

It may be true that National Poetry month has come and gone, but the poets and their work remain. Found within the dusty shelves of forgotten libraries and among the billions of electrical connections that litter the internet highway, poetry is a force beyond what a singular month can contain.