Meet our 2020 Festival Poets!
Samar Abulhassan is a Jack Straw Writer and holds an M.F.A. from Colorado State University. She’s worked in California public schools for seven years. Born to Lebanese immigrants and raised with multiple languages, she is a 2006 Hedgebrook alum and the author of six chapbooks, including Farah and Nocturnal Temple. Samar has worked with Seattle Arts & Lectures’ Writers in the Schools since 2008 and as a teaching artist for the Skagit River Poetry Foundation since 2010. Samar also participated in the 2018 Skagit River Poetry Festival. In 2016, Samar received a CityArtist grant to aid in completing a novel-in-poems reflecting on memory, longing, and the Arabic alphabet.
Kelli Russell Agodon is the cofounder of Two Sylvias Press where she works as an editor and book cover designer. Her most recent book, Hourglass Museum, was a finalist for the Washington State Book Awards and shortlisted for the Julie Suk Poetry Prize. Her second book, Letters from the Emily Dickinson Room was the winner of the Foreword Indies Book of the Year for poetry and also a finalist for the Washington State Book Awards. She’s received awards from the Poetry Society of America, the Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Foundation, James Hearst Poetry Prize, Artist Trust, and the Puffin Foundation. She coauthored The Daily Poet: Day-By-Day Prompts for Your Writing Practice, with poet Martha Silano and is the Co-Director of Poets on the Coast. She is an avid hiker and paddleboarder. Her next collection, Dialogues with Rising Tides, will be published by Copper Canyon Press in 2021. www.agodon.com / www.twosylviaspress.com
Daemond Arrindell is a writer and Teaching Artist. His work has appeared in City Arts, Specter, and Crosscut magazines, as well as Poetry NorthWest and Seattle Review of Books. Daemond is a Jack Straw Writer, a VONA/Voices Writer’s Workshop fellow and co-adapted the acclaimed novel “Welcome To Braggsville,” by T. Geronimo Johnson into a stage production for Book-It Repertory Theater. In 2019, he performed his first one-man show, “Frozen Borders,” a performative exploration in imagery, poetry and emotion on the subject of the United States’ southern border. He is a faculty member of TAT Lab: the Washington State Teaching Artist Training Lab; Freehold Theatre – leading poetry and theater residencies at Monroe Correctional Complex for men for over ten years; Adjunct faculty at Seattle University; and Writer-In-Residence through Seattle Arts & Lectures’ Writers in the Schools Program and Skagit River Poetry Foundation.
Elizabeth Austen was Washington State Poet Laureate 2014-16 and has taught writing workshops in all 39 counties, including “hike and write” events in state parks. She’s the author of Every Dress a Decision (Blue Begonia Press), two chapbooks, and an audio CD. Poems from her next collection-in-progress, currently titled Calling Out the Names, appeared recently in the New England Review and Spirited Stone: Lessons from Kubota’s Garden. She’s performed her work at UNESCO in Paris alongside poets from 12 nations, at Poets House in NYC, and in a remote former mining town in Washington state. She teaches reflective writing and poetry as a tool for self-care and healing to staff at Seattle Children’s Hospital, Virginia Mason, Neighborcare Health and other institutions. Elizabeth provided on-air poetry commentary and interviews for NPR affiliate KUOW for nearly 20 years. She earned an MFA in poetry at Antioch University – Los Angeles. https://elizabethausten.wordpress.com/
Samiya Bashir most recent book of poetry, Field Theories, which won the Oregon Book Award for poetry in 2018, wends its way through quantum mechanics, chicken wings and Newports, love and a shoulder’s chill, melding blackbody theory (idealized perfect absorption, as opposed to the whitebody’s idealized reflection) with real live Black bodies in poems that span lyric, narrative, dramatic, and multi-media experience, engaging their containers while pushing against their constraints. During the six months leading up to the release of Field Theories, Bashir created six short videopoems in collaboration with video artist Roland Dahwen Wu and dancer Keyon Gaskin to remix and reimagine the work through a new medium: sound & image & light. Bashir holds a BA from the University of California, Berkeley, where she served as Poet Laureate, and an MFA from the University of Michigan, where she received two Hopwood Poetry Awards. In October 2017 she was awarded the Regional Arts & Culture Council’s Individual Artist Fellowship in Literature in recognition of individual artistic achievement and excellence to sustain and enhance her creative process. http://samiyabashir.com/
Ellen Bass is the author of eight poetry collections, three nonfiction books, and coeditor of a groundbreaking anthology. Her poetry collections include Like a Beggar (Copper Canyon Press, 2014), which was a finalist for The Paterson Poetry Prize, The Publishers Triangle Award, The Milt Kessler Poetry Award, The Lambda Literary Award, and the Northern California Book Award. The Human Line (Copper Canyon Press, 2007) was named a Notable Book by the San Francisco Chronicle, and Mules of Love (BOA Editions, 2002) won The Lambda Literary Award. In 1973, Bass co-edited with Florence Howe the first major anthology of women’s poetry, No More Masks!. Bass’ works of nonfiction include the bestselling The Courage to Heal: A Guide for Women Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse, co-authored with Laura Davis (HarperCollins 1988, 20th anniversary edition 2008). The book has sold over a million copies and been translated into twelve languages. As a pioneer in the field of healing from child sexual abuse, Bass has given countless keynotes at conferences and other gatherings in support of survivors and to help educate professionals. https://www.ellenbass.com/
Trevino L. Brings Plenty is a poet and musician who lives, works, and writes in Portland, OR. He is singer/songwriter/guitarist for the musical ensemble Ballads of Larry Drake. He has read/performed his work at poetry festivals as far away as Amman, Jordan and close to his home base at Portland’s Wordstock Festival. In college, Trevino worked with Primus St. John and Henry Carlile for this poetry work, studied with Tomas Svoboda for music composition, and Jerry Hahn for Jazz guitar. Trevino is an American and Native American; a Lakota Indian born on the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation, South Dakota, USA. Some of his work explores the American Indian identity in American culture and how it has through genealogical history affected indigenous peoples in the 21st century. He writes of urban Indian life; it’s his subject. Other titles by author: Wakpá Wanáǧi, Ghost River (2015); Real Indian Junk Jewelry (2012); Shedding Skins: Four Sioux Poets (2008). https://www.trevinobringsplenty.com/index/
Jericho Brown is the author of three collections of poetry: The Tradition (2019), a finalist for the 2019 National Book Award; The New Testament (Copper Canyon 2014), won the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award and was named one of the best of the year by Library Journal, Coldfront, and the Academy of American Poets; and Please (New Issues, 2008), which won the 2009 American Book Award. The New York Times Book Review notes his most recent collection The Tradition: “In Brown’s poems, the body at risk — the infected body, the abused body, the black body, the body in eros — is most vulnerable to the cruelty of the world. But even in their most searing moments, these poems are resilient out of necessity, faithful to their account of survival, when survival is the hardest task of all: “So the Bible says, in the beginning, / Blackness. I am alive.” https://www.jerichobrown.com/
Laura Da’ is a poet and teacher. A lifetime resident of the Pacific Northwest, Da’ studied creative writing at the University of Washington and The Institute of American Indian Arts. Da’ is Eastern Shawnee. Da’ lives near Seattle with her husband and son. She is the author of the collections Instruments of the True Measure (University of Arizona Press, 2018), winner of the Washington State Book Award, and Tributaries (University of Arizona Press, 2015), winner of the 2016 American Book Award and the chapbook The Tecumseh Motel. Her work has appeared in the anthologies New Poets of Native Nations (Graywolf Press, 2018) and Effigies II (Salt Publishing, 2014). http://www.laurada.com/
Matt Gano Matt Gano is author of Suits for the Swarm, a poetry collection from MoonPath Press, co-founder of the Seattle Youth Poet Laureate Program, and the principal bricklayer of Abbey Arts’ NEXT STAGE program – a career training program for emerging artists. He works as a senior writer-in-residence for Seattle Arts and Lectures: Writers in the Schools program, and as a guest teaching artist for the Skagit River Poetry Foundation. Matt’s dynamic work has led to recent invitations as a panelist and featured poet for the Skagit River Poetry Festival (2018), instructor for WRITE Doe Bay, and faculty member for the LiTFUSE writer’s conference. Matt’s poetry has appeared in City Arts Magazine, Drunk In a Midnight Choir, The Operating System Vol. 3., The Breadline anthology, Bestiary Magazine, and chapbooks: Up From the Mine, Bones For The Builder, Music Maker, Welcome Home, I Eight the Infinite and Art Barker, a poetry LP entitled “Music Maker,” and a live recording entitled “A Giant’s Pulse.” https://www.mattgano.com/
Terrance Hayes One of the most compelling voices in American poetry, Terrance Hayes is the author of six books of poetry; American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assassins (2018), a finalist for the 2018 National Book Award in Poetry; How to Be Drawn (2015), longlisted for the 2015 National Book Award in Poetry; Lighthead (2010), winner of the 2010 National Book Award in Poetry; Wind in a Box, winner of a Pushcart Prize; Hip Logic, winner of the National Poetry Series, a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Award, and runner-up for the James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets; and Muscular Music, winner of both the Whiting Writers Award and the Kate Tufts Discovery Award. He is also the author of the short story collection To Float In The Space Between: Drawings and Essays in Conversation with Etheridge Knight (2018), which won the 2019 Etheridge Knight Criticism Collection award from The Poetry Foundation. He has been a recipient of many other honors and awards, including a 2014 MacArthur Foundation Genius Award, two Pushcart selections, eight Best American Poetry selections, and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship and the Guggenheim Foundation. https://terrancehayes.com/about/
Lorraine Healy is an Argentinean poet who has been published extensively. Nominated for Pushcart prizes in 2004 and twice in 2018, she has a M.F.A from the New England College and a post-MFA from Antioch University LA. She is the first poet to have received a green card solely on the merits of her work. The 2009 winner of the Libby First Book Award, her book The Habit of Buenos Aires was published by Tebot Bach. She has published three chapbooks, The Farthest South by New American Press, The Archipelago by Finishing Line, and The Voices of Abraham by World Enough Press. Her second full-length, Mostly Luck. Odes & Other Poems of Praise, was published by MoonPath in 2018. Lorraine has long lived on Whidbey Island, where she has taught advanced poetry seminars and works as a fine-arts photographer.
Liz Howard Her debut collection Infinite Citizen of the Shaking Tent won the 2016 Griffin Poetry Prize, was shortlisted for the 2015 Governor General’s Award for poetry, and was named a Globe and Mail top 100 book. Her recent work has appeared in Canadian Art, Poetry Magazine, and Best Canadian Poetry 2018. Howard received an Honours Bachelor of Science with High Distinction from the University of Toronto, and an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Guelph. She served as the 2018-2019 Distinguished Canadian Writer-in-Residence at the University of Calgary. She is of mixed settler and Anishinaabe descent. Born and raised on Treaty 9 territory in northern Ontario, she is currently lives in Toronto.
Holly J. Hughes is the author of Hold Fast, Sailing by Ravens, co-author of The Pen and The Bell: Mindful Writing in a Busy World, and editor of the award-winning anthology, Beyond Forgetting: Poetry and Prose about Alzheimer’s Disease. Her fine art chapbook Passings received an American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation in 2017. Her poems and essays have been nominated for a Pushcart prize and have appeared in a number of journals and anthologies, including Poetry of Presence and Dancing with Joy. She’s a graduate of Pacific Lutheran University’s low-residency MFA program, where she served on the staff for 13 years. She also spent over thirty summers working on the water in Alaska commercial fishing for salmon, skippering a 65-foot schooner and working as a naturalist on ships. She currently leads writing and mindfulness workshops in Alaska and the northwest and consults as a writing coach. http://hollyjhughes.com/
Jourdan Imani Keith is a storyteller, essayist, playwright, naturalist and activist. She was The City of Seattle’s 2019 -2021 Civic Poet. A student of Sonia Sanchez, Keith’s TEDx Talk, “Your Body of Water,” was the theme for King County’s 2016-2018 Poetry on Buses program which won an Americans for the Arts award. Her poetry is largely anthologized and was long listed by Danez Smith for Cosmonauts Avenue poetry prize. Keith’s Orion Magazine essays, “Desegregating Wilderness” and ” At Risk” were selected for the 2015 Best American Science and Nature Writing Anthology (Houghton Mifflin). She has been awarded fellowships from Hedgebrook, Wildbranch, Santa Fe Science Writing workshop, VONA, and Jack Straw. Her memoir in essays, Tugging at the Web is forthcoming from University of Washington Press. https://jourdankeith.wordpress.com/
Keetje Kuipers is the author of three books of poems: Beautiful in the Mouth, The Keys to the Jail, and, most recently, All Its Charms, which includes poems honored by publication in both The Pushcart Prize and Best American Poetry anthologies. Her poetry and prose have appeared in Narrative, Virginia Quarterly Review, The New York Times Magazine, The Believer, and over a hundred other magazines. Her poems have also been featured as part of the Academy of American Poets’ Poem-a-Day series and read on NPR. Keetje has been a Stegner Fellow, a Bread Loaf fellow, and PEN Northwest’s Margery Davis Boyden Wilderness Writing Resident. She lives with her wife and children on an island in the Salish Sea, a short ferry ride away from Seattle where she teaches at Hugo House and serves as Senior Editor at Poetry Northwest. https://keetjekuipers.com/
Li-Young Lee is the author of five critically acclaimed books of poetry, most recently The Undressing (W.W Norton, 2018), Behind My Eyes (W.W. Norton, 2008), and a chapbook The Word From His Song (BOA Editions, 2016). His earlier collections are Book of My Nights (BOA Editions, 2001); Rose (BOA, 1986), winner of the Delmore Schwartz Memorial Award from New York University; The City in Which I Love You (BOA, 1991), the 1990 Lamont Poetry Selection; and a memoir entitled The Winged Seed: A Remembrance (Simon and Schuster, 1995), which received an American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation and will be reissued by BOA Editions in 2012. Lee’s honors include fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, The Lannan Foundation, and the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, as well as grants from the Illinois Arts Council, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. In 1988 he received the Writer’s Award from the Mrs. Giles Whiting Foundation. He is also featured in Katja Esson‘s documentary, Poetry of Resilience.
Frances McCue is a poet and prose writer who has spent her career as a public scholar and arts instigator. McCue connects literary and historical research with community life. From 1996-2006, she was the Founding Director of Richard Hugo House in Seattle. She has published five books, including a book of essays about poet Richard Hugo, The Car That Brought You Here Still Runs (University of Washington Press), and another that describes the portraits of photographer Mary Randlett. Her 2017 book of poems, Timber Curtain, is an exploration of lost places in our fast-developing city and arose from work on “Where the House Was,” a documentary film that tells one story about the arts and gentrification in Seattle. In 2018, she won the University of Washington’s Distinguished Teaching Award. She has a chapbook called I Almost Read the Books Whole forthcoming from Factory Hollow Press.
Jeffrey Morgan is the author of two poetry collections, Crying Shame (BlazeVOX [Books], 2011) and The Last Note Becomes Its Listener (Conduit Books & Ephemera, 2019), winner of the Minds on Fire Open Book Prize. His poems appear in Copper Nickel, The Kenyon Review Online, Ninth Letter, Poetry Northwest, and Rattle. He lives with his wife, daughter, and brother in Bellingham, WA, and he works for the Skagit River Poetry Foundation as a Poet-in-the-schools.
Natalie Scenters-Zapico is from the sister cities of El Paso, Texas, U.S.A., and Cd. Juárez, Chihuahua, México. Her first book The Verging Cities (Center for Literary Publishing 2015) won the PEN/Joyce Osterweil Award, Great Lakes Colleges Association’s New Writers Award, NACCS Foco Book Prize, Utah Book Award, and was featured in Poets and Writers, LitHub, and the Los Angeles Times. Her second collection, Lima :: Limón (Copper Canyon Press, May 2019), has received critical acclaim from the New Yorker, Publisher’s Weekly, The New York Times, The Washington Post, & more. Her poems have appeared in a wide range of anthologies and literary magazines including Best American Poetry, POETRY, Tin House, Kenyon Review, and more. Currently, she holds fellowships from the Lannan Foundation and CantoMundo. She is a Poet in Residence at the University of Puget Sound and a recipient of the 2018 Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Fellowship from the Poetry Foundation.
Martha Silano has authored five books of poetry, including Gravity Assist (2019), Reckless Lovely (2014), and The Little Office of the Immaculate Conception (2011), all from Saturnalia Books. She is also co-author of The Daily Poet: Day-by-Day Prompts for Your Writing Practice. Her poems have appeared in Paris Review, Poetry, Poetry Daily, Verse Daily, American Poetry Review, New England Review, and North American Review, among others. Awards include the James Hearst Poetry Prize and the Robert and Adele Schiff Award in Poetry. Her work appears in numerous anthologies, including A Face to Meet the Faces: an Anthology of Contemporary Persona Poetry (Paz and Brown, eds), and The Best American Poetry series. Martha teaches at Bellevue College and serves as a Poet in the Schools through the Skagit Valley Poetry Foundation. Learn more about Martha and her work at marthasilano.net.
Ed Skoog is the author of Travelers Leaving for the City (Copper Canyon Press, 2020) and three other collections, including Rough Day, winner of the Washington State Book Award, and Run the Red Lights, finalist for an Oregon Book Awards. His poems have appeared in The New Yorker, Harper’s, The New York Times Sunday Magazine, and Poetry Northwest. He has received fellowships from George Washington University, The Lannan Foundation, and Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, and has been the Writer-in-Residence at the Hugo House. He is a visiting professor at the University Montana, and lives in Portland.
Austin Smith is the author of Almanac and Flyover Country, both published through the Princeton Series of Contemporary Poets. He is also the author of four chapbooks: In the Silence of the Migrated Birds, Wheat and Distance, Instructions for How to Put an Old Horse Down and Midwestern Death Poems (with Michael Theune). His poems have appeared in The New Yorker, POETRY, New England Review, Ploughshares, Threepenny Review, ZYZZYVA, Yale Review, and other publications. The recipient of a Wallace Stegner Fellowship in prose and an NEA grant in fiction, he teaches fiction, poetry, documentary journalism and environmental literature at Stanford University, and lives in a farmhouse in northwestern Illinois with his dog Wendell and his cat Colette. http://www.austinrobertsmith.com/
Karen Solie was born in Moose Jaw, and grew up in southwest Saskatchewan. She is the author of five collections of poetry. Her third, Pigeon, won the Pat Lowther Award, Trillium Poetry Prize, and the Griffin Prize. The Road In Is Not the Same Road Out was published in 2015 by House of Anansi in Canada and in the U.S. by FSG. Her most recent, The Caiplie Caves, published in Canada and the U.K. in 2019 and the U.S. in 2020, was shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Prize. A volume of selected poems, The Living Option, was published in the U.K. in 2013. She has worked as an instructor and writer-in-residence for universities across Canada, for the University of St. Andrews and Manchester Metropolitan University in the U.K., and will be the Holloway Visiting Poet and Lecturer at Berkeley in 2021. An associate director for the Banff Centre’s Writing Studio program, she is based in Toronto.
CLEMENS STARCK, born in 1937, is a Princeton drop-out, a former merchant seaman and reporter on Wall Street. He has worked at many jobs, but mostly as a union carpenter and construction foreman on the West Coast—San Francisco, British Columbia, and Oregon. His first book of poems, Journeyman’s Wages, received the 1996 Oregon Book Award as well as the William Stafford Memorial Poetry Award from the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association. His next two books—Studying Russian on Company Time (1999) and China Basin (2002)—were also finalists for the Oregon Book Award. Three letterpress chapbooks of his poems followed: Traveling Incognito (2004), Rembrandt, Chainsaw (2011), and Old Dogs, New Tricks (2016). In 2019, his collected poems, Cathedrals & Parking Lots: Collected Poems was published by Empty Bowl. A widower with three grown children, he lives on forty-some acres in the country outside of Dallas, Oregon, in the mid-Willamette Valley.
Joe Wilkins is the author of four books of poetry, including Thieve (2020), winner of the Blue Lynx Prize, and When We Were Birds (2016), winner of the Oregon Book Award in Poetry. His individual poems have appeared in The Southern Review, The Missouri Review, The Sun, Orion, and Ecotone. Wilkins’s debut novel, Fall Back Down When I Die (2019), shortlisted for the Center For Fiction’s First Novel Award, was praised as “remarkable and unforgettable” in a starred review at Booklist. His memoir, The Mountain and the Fathers (2012), won the 2014 GLCA New Writers Award in Creative Nonfiction, an honor that has previously recognized early work by the likes of Richard Ford, Louise Erdrich, and Alice Munro. Wilkins lives with his family in western Oregon, where he directs the creative writing program at Linfield College. https://joewilkins.org/
Ray Young Bear, Meskwaki (Red Earth People) tribal member, lives in central Iowa. In 2015, his book, Manifestation Wolverine: The Collected Poetry of Ray Young Bear, was published by Open Road Media. His poems have been featured in The New Yorker, The Iowa Review, and Native Voices, an anthology by Tupelo Press. In 2020, his poems are included in When the Light of the World was Subdued, a Norton Anthology of Native Nations Poetry, edited by Joy Harjo, U.S. Poet Laureate.
Javier Zamora was born in El Salvador and immigrated to the United States in 1999 when he was nine—travelling unaccompanied 4,000 miles, across multiple borders, from El Salvador to the US to be reunited with his parents. Unaccompanied (Copper Canyon Press, 2017), his first poetry collection, explores how immigration and civil war have impacted his life and family. This collection won the 2018 North California Book Award, the 2018 Firecracker Award, and was a finalist for the 2019 Kate Tufts Discovery Award. He is also the author of the chapbook Nueve Años Inmigrantes/Nine Immigrant Years, which won the 2011 Organic Weapon Arts contest. Zamora holds a BA from the University of California, Berkeley, where he studied and taught in June Jordan’s Poetry for the People program and earned an MFA from New York University. His poems have been featured in Granta, The Kenyon Review, Poetry, The New York Times, and many others. Zamora has received many honors, including a 2015 NEA fellowship, the 2016 Ruth Lilly Fellowship, a 2016-2018 Wallace Stegner Fellowship, the 2017 Lannan Literary Fellowship, and the 2017 Narrative Prize. In 2016, Barnes & Noble granted the Undocupoets, of which he’s a founding member, the Writer for Writers Award for working to promote undocumented or previously undocumented writers. http://www.javierzamora.net/