April 7, 2021 / Margo Vansynghel / Crosscut

Washington State names its first Native American poet laureate

A member of the Lummi Nation, Bellingham writer Rena Priest will bring attention to local poetry, climate change and the loss of vital natural resources.

After years of entering poetry contests and submitting to literary journals, Rena Priest had developed a habit: She would slip a copy of a New Yorker cartoon into the envelope along with her work. The image showed a car with a driver and passenger stuck in a sea of traffic. The caption: “Try honking again.” 

Rena Priest

Though the cartoon was mostly for laughs — and to soften the potential blow of rejection — that’s how it felt trying to make it as a poet: honking into the void, hoping to make progress. These days, Priest, 42, is breezing through the fast lane. Today, April 1, the Bellingham-based poet has been named the new Washington state poet laureate, the state’s highest honor in poetry. 

The author of two poetry books and a member of the Lhaq'temish (Lummi) Nation, Priest is the sixth poet and first Native person to be selected for the two-year term, a program of the Washington State Arts Commission and Humanities Washington.

Read full article here: Crosscut
Original URL: https://crosscut.com/culture/2021/04/washington-state-names-its-first-native-american-poet-laureate?fbclid=IwAR1lXBgp1G1JZZi60fc1PisYlfesDSqfzPVp_QHPLW1GS_xndkbaa3hxnNM
        We acknowledge that Whatcom County is located on the unceded territory of the Coast Salish Peoples. They cared for the lands that included what we’d call the Puget Sound region, Vancouver Island and British Columbia since time immemorial. This gives us the great obligation and opportunity to learn how to care for our surrounding areas and all the natural and human resources we require to live. We express our deepest respect and gratitude for our indigenous neighbors, the Lummi Nation and Nooksack Tribe, for their enduring care and protection of our shared lands and waterways.
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