Meet our 2018 Poetry Festival Poets!


Samar Abulhassan

Samar Abulhassan holds an M.F.A. from Colorado State University and has worked in public school classrooms for 15 years, the last ten years for Seattle Arts & Lectures’ WITS program and the last five years for the Skagit River Poetry Project. 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. She recently received a 2016 CityArtist grant to complete a novel-in-poems, reflecting on memory, longing, and the Arabic alphabet.


Anastacia-Renee is Seattle’s Civic Poet and former 2015-2017 Poet-in-Residence at Hugo House. She is a hybrid genre writer, workshop facilitator, and multivalent performance artist. She is the author of four books: Forget It (Black Radish Books), (v.), (Gramma Press), Answer (Me) (Argus Press) and 26 (Dancing Girl Press) and her poetry, prose and fiction have been published widely. She has appeared in 9 Ounces, a One Woman Show, a theatrical mixed media project. She was a 2016 James W. Ray Distinguished Writers Award nominee and a 2016 Pushcart Prize nominee.

Daemond Arrindell

Daemond Arrindell is a poet, playwright, performer and teaching artist. He has written for City Arts and Cross Cut magazines, has self-published two chapbooks. 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. Daemond is Adjunct Faculty at Seattle University, a 2013 Jack Straw Writer, and a 2014 VONA/Voices Writer’s Workshop fellow. He has performed across the country and has been repeatedly commissioned by Seattle and Bellevue Arts Museums. More recently, Daemond co-adapted the acclaimed contemporary and satirical novel “Welcome to Braggsville,” by T. Geronimo Johnson into a stage production for Book-It Repertory Theater.  Braggsville debuted in June 2017.


Quenton Baker

Quenton Baker is a poet and educator from Seattle. His current focus is the fact of blackness in American society. His work has appeared in Jubilat, Vinyl, Apogee, Pinwheel, Poetry Northwest, The James Franco Review, and Cura. He has an MFA in Poetry from the University of Southern Maine and is a two-time Pushcart Prize nominee. He was a 2015-2016 Made at Hugo House fellow and is the recipient of the James W. Ray Venture Project award from Artist Trust. He is the author of This Glittering Republic (Willow Books, 2016).

Ellen Bass

Ellen Bass’s most recent book is Like a Beggar (Copper Canyon Press, 2014). She co-edited the groundbreaking No More Masks! An Anthology of Poems by Women and her non-fiction books include The Courage to Heal and Free Your Mind. Her poetry frequently appears in The New Yorker, The American Poetry Review, and many other journals. Among her awards are Fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the California Arts Council, three Pushcart Prizes, and The Lambda Literary Award. She teaches in the MFA writing program at Pacific University and is a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets.

Lily Baumgart

Lily Baumgart is Seattle’s 2017-2018 Youth Poet Laureate. Before being the Youth Poet Laureate, Baumgart was in the finalists cohort for the 2016-2017 YPL season. She also was a part of the inaugural Jack Straw Young Writers Program 2015-2016. She believes that writing is forever changing the lives of writers and readers. Her favorite part of writing is being able to teach poetry to people and learn from those she works with; for her, poetry is a constant state of growth. She has read and taught around the Seattle area and has a forthcoming book through Penmanship Books in May of 2018.

Tina Chang

Tina Chang was raised in New York City. She is the first female to be named Poet Laureate of Brooklyn and is the author of the collections of poetry Of Gods & Strangers (2011) and Half-Lit Houses (2004). She is also the co-editor of the W.W. Norton anthology Language for a New Century: Contemporary Poetry from the Middle East, Asia, and Beyond (2008). She is the recipient of awards from the New York Foundation for the Arts, Academy of American Poets, Poets & Writers, the Ludwig Vogelstein Foundation, and the Van Lier Foundation. She teaches poetry at Sarah Lawrence College and she is also a member of the international writing faculty at the City University of Hong Kong.

Kevin Craft

Kevin Craft lives in Seattle and directs the Written Arts Program at Everett Community College. He also teaches at the University of Washington’s Rome Center, and served as editor of Poetry Northwest from 2009 to 2016. His first book, Solar Prominence (2005), was selected by Vern Rutsala for the Gorsline Prize from Cloudbank Books. A new collection, Vagrants & Accidentals, which includes the entire “Wilson’s Warbler” sequence, has just been published by the University of Washington Press. He is now executive editor of Poetry NW Editions, and a director of the UW Writers in Rome program which he has led for nearly 20 years. He believes that poems, like good travelers, live in the go-between.

Tony Curtis

Tony Curtis was born in Dublin in 1955. He was educated at Essex University and Trinity College Dublin. An award-winning poet, Curtis has published nine collections. His most recent titles are Folk (Arc Publications 2011), Pony with drawings and paintings by David Lilburn (Occasional Press 2013), and Approximately in the Key of C (Arc Publications 2015). In 2008, Days Like These, with Paula Meehan and Theo Dorgan, was published by Brooding Heron Press in Washington State. He is currently working on a book of poems about Alcock and Brown. Curtis has been awarded the Irish National Poetry Prize and has been awarded the 2018 Lawrence O’Shaughnessy poetry prize for his contribution to Irish literature.


Michael Daley

Matthew Dickman

Matthew Dickman is the author of All-American Poem (American Poetry Review/Copper Canyon Press, 2008), 50 American Plays (co-written with his twin brother, Michael Dickman, Copper Canyon Press, 2012), Mayakovsky’s Revolver (W.W. Norton, 2012), Wish You Were Here (Spork Press, 2013), 24 HOURS (One Star Press, Paris, France, 2014), Brother (Faber& Faber UK, 2016), and the forthcoming poetry collection, Wonderland (W.W. Norton) He is the recipient of The May Sarton Award from the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Kate Tufts Award from Claremont College, and a 2015 Guggenheim. His poems have appeared in Poetry London, McSweeny’s, The London Review of Books, Esquire, Best American Poetry and The New Yorker.

Lorraine Ferra

Lorraine Ferra has been a poet-in- residence for many years through the arts programs in Washington, Utah, Delaware, Massachusetts, and Vermont, and through the Skagit River Poetry Foundation since 2002. Her poems have appeared in numerous literary journals and anthologies, and she has received a Utah Arts Council Award in Literature and a Westigan Poetry Award selected by John Haines. She is the author of two poetry collections: Eating Bread, and What the Silence Might Say. Her passion for teaching is centered in the power of poetry, which enables students to recognize their own unique creativity. Lorraine has lived with her partner in Port Townsend for the last twenty years.


Jennifer Elise Foerster

Jennifer Elise Foerster is an alumna of the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA), received her MFA from the Vermont College of the Fine Arts, and is completing a PhD at the University of Denver. She is the recipient of a 2017 NEA Creative Writing Fellowship, a Lannan Foundation Writing Residency Fellowship, and was a Wallace Stegner Fellow in Poetry at Stanford. A member of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation of Oklahoma, she is the author of two books of poetry, Leaving Tulsa and Bright Raft in the Afterweather. She co-directs an arts mentorship program for Mvskoke youth and teaches at the IAIA MFA Low-Residency Program.

Matt Gano

Matt Gano is author of Suits for the Swarm, a poetry collection from MoonPath Press, and co-founder of the Seattle Youth Poet Laureate Program. Matt has been writing and teaching professionally since 2004. He currently works as Program Manager of The Fremont Abbey Arts Center, as writer-in-residence for Writers in the Schools (The Center School), and as a teaching artist for the Skagit River Poetry Foundation. Matt has worked at international residencies teaching creative writing at the Hong Kong School of Creativity, and in Seoul, Korea for the Youth Creativity Summit. He represented Seattle at the National Poetry Slam multiple years and is a former Seattle Grand-Slam champion.

Dan Gerber

Dan Gerber has published nine collections of poetry, most recently, Particles: New and Selected Poems (Copper Canyon Press, 2017), three novels, two nonfiction books, and a collection of short stories. His work has been honored with the Foreword Magazine Book of the Year Award, the Midland Author Award, and The Mark Twain Award, and has appeared in The Nation, The New Yorker, Poetry, Partisan Review, and Best American Poetry.  He lives with his wife, Debbie, and their beloved menagerie, domestic and wild, in the mountains of California’s Central Coast.

Samuel Green

Samuel Green has taught at Southern Utah University, Western Wyoming Community College, Colorado College, and Seattle University (both on the Seattle campus and in Ireland) as well as 42 years as a poet-in- the-schools. Among his eleven collections of poems are The Grace of Necessity (Carnegie-Mellon University), which won the Washington State Book Award for Poetry, and All That Might Be Done, also from Carnegie Mellon. He is Co-Editor, with his wife, Sally, of the award-winning Brooding Heron Press. In 2007, Green was named the Inaugural Poet Laureate for the State of Washington. Other honors include a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in Poetry and an Artist Trust Fellowship in Literature.

Georgia Johnson

Georgia Johnson believes in patience, pressure, and surprise.  She sits in any pew, kneels on all rugs, and appreciates sincerity.  It has been her good fortune to be surrounded by geniuses and the internet, of which she takes full advantage. As a La Conner School District Lunch Lady, her work includes making sure the kids in school eat their fruits and vegetables, with other delicious foods on hand. She teaches them the culinary magic arts. She writes and shares sometimes. With the artists Maggie Wilder and Clifford Burke she collaborated on a chapbook, “Finding Beet Seed” which was published beautifully by Desert Rose Press in 2000. “Just Past Dew Point” was published by Flying Trout Press in 2017. She is wild for words; finding the right ones.

Jourdan Imani Keith

Jourdan Imani Keith is a poet, playwright, essayist, lecturer, and storyteller. A contributing writer for Orion Magazine, two of her essays were chosen for the 2015 Best American Science and Nature Writing Anthology (Houghton Mifflin).  Her memoir Tugging at the Web is forthcoming from University of Washington Press (2018).  Featured at the Northwest African American Museum, MOHAI’s Queering the Museum exhibition, and at Seattle Art Museum’s REMIX, her image driven poetry keeps the history of marginalized people alive through stories of the land. Keith’s TEDx Talk “Your Body of Water” is the 2016-2018 theme for King County’s Poetry on Buses.

Ada Limón

Ada Limón is the author of four books of poetry, including Bright Dead Things, which was named a finalist for the 2015 National Book Award in Poetry, a finalist for the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award, a finalist for the 2015 National Book Critics Circle Award, and one of the Top Ten Poetry Books of the Year by The New York Times. Her other books include Lucky WreckThis Big Fake World, and Sharks in the Rivers. She serves on the faculty of Queens University of Charlotte Low Residency M.F.A program, and the 24Pearl Street online program for the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center. She also works as a freelance writer splitting her time between Lexington, Kentucky and Sonoma, California.

Claudia Castro Luna

Claudia Castro Luna is Washington State Poet Laureate (2018-2020) and served as Seattle’s first Civic Poet (2015-2017). She is the author of Killing Marías (Two Sylvias Press) and This City, (Floating Bridge Press), a Hedgebrook and VONA alumna, a 2014 Jack Straw fellow, the recipient of a King County 4Culture grant and an individual artist grant from Seattle’s Office of Arts and Culture. Born in El Salvador she came to the United States in 1981. She has an MA in Urban Planning, a teaching certificate and an MFA in poetry. Her poems have appeared in Poetry Northwest, La Bloga, City Arts and Taos Journal of International Poetry and Art, among others. Her non-fiction work can be read in the anthologies, The Wandering Song: Central American Writing in the US, Northwestern University Press; Vanishing Points: Contemporary Salvadoran Narrative, Kalina Eds; and in This Is The Place: Women Writing About Home, Seal Press. Claudia Castro Luna was named 2018-2020 WA State Poet Laureate.

Tod Marshall

Tod Marshall, selected as the 2016-2018 Washington State Poet Laureate, is a professor at Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington. His books of poetry include Bugle (Canarium Press, 2014), The Tangled Line (Canarium Press, 2009), and Dare Say (University of Georgia Press, 2002). He has also published a collection of his interviews with contemporary poets, Range of the Possible (Eastern Washington University Press, 2002) and an attendant anthology of work by interviewed poets, Range of Voices (EWU Press, 2005).  He has published a collection of poems from Washington residents called WA126, one poem for each year of statehood. Marshall was the first in his family to attend college and has dedicated himself to bringing humanities experiences to underserved populations. “Poetry matters—not just to poets, professors, and students: poetry matters to everyone,” he says.

Tim McNulty

Tim McNulty is a poet, essayist, and nature writer. He is the author of three poetry collections: Ascendance (published by Pleasure Boat Studio), In Blue Mountain Dusk, and Pawtracks. and ten chapbooks. He is also the author of eleven books on natural history. McNulty’s poems, essays, articles, and criticism have appeared in numerous publications, and his natural history writings have been translated into German, Italian, Chinese, and Japanese. Tim has received  the Washington State Book Award and National Outdoor Book Award. He lives with his wife in the foothills of the Olympic Mountains.

Joseph Millar

Joseph Millar’s fourth collection, Kingdom, was published by Carnegie-Mellon early in 2017. His poems have won fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the NEA, and a Pushcart Prize and have appeared in such magazines as Double Take, Tin House, PloughsharesAPR and The Southern Review. Millar teaches in North Carolina State’s MFA program and Pacific University’s MFA and spends his time between Raleigh, NC and Richmond, CA.

Robert Pinsky

Robert Pinsky is a poet, essayist, translator, teacher, and speaker. His first two terms as United States Poet Laureate were marked by such visible dynamism—and such national enthusiasm in response—that the Library of Congress appointed him to an unprecedented third term. Throughout his career, Pinsky has been dedicated to identifying and invigorating poetry’s place in the world. “No other living American poet—no other living American, probably—has done so much to put poetry before the public eye.”

Known worldwide, Pinsky’s work has earned him the PEN/Voelcker Award, the William Carlos Williams Prize, the Lenore Marshall Prize, Italy’s Premio Capri, the Korean Manhae Award, and the Harold Washington Award from the City of Chicago, among other accolades. Pinsky is a professor of English and creative writing in the graduate writing program at Boston University. In 2015 the university named him a William Fairfield Warren Distinguished Professor, the highest honor bestowed on senior faculty members who are actively involved in teaching, research, scholarship, and university civic life.

M.L. Smoker

M.L. Smoker belongs to the Assiniboine and Sioux tribes of the Fort Peck Reservation in Montana. She holds an MFA from the University of Montana in Missoula, where she was the recipient of the Richard Hugo Fellowship. Her first collection of poems, Another Attempt at Rescue, was published by Hanging Loose Press in 2005. In 2009 she co-edited an anthology of human rights poetry with Melissa Kwasny entitled, I Go to the Ruined Place. She received a regional Emmy award for her work as a writer/consultant on the PBS documentary Indian Relay. M.L. Smoker currently resides in Helena, Montana where she works as the Director of Indian Education for the state of Montana.

Alexandra Teague

Alexandra Teague is the author of the novel The Principles Behind Flotation (Skyhorse, 2017) and two books of poetry—The Wise and Foolish Builders (Persea, 2015) and Mortal Geography (Persea, 2010), winner of the 2009 Lexi Rudnitsky Prize and the 2010 California Book Award. She is also co-editor of the anthology Bullets into Bells:  Poets and Citizens Respond to Gun Violence (Beacon 2017). The recipient of a 2006-08 Stegner Fellowship and a 2011 National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship,

Alexandra is an Associate Professor in the MFA program at University of Idaho and an editor for Broadsided Press.

Lena Khalaf Tuffaha

Lena Khalaf Tuffaha is an American writer of Palestinian, Syrian, and Jordanian heritage. Her book of poems, Water & Salt, is published by Red Hen Press. She is the winner of the 2016 Two Sylvias Prize for her chapbook Arab in Newsland. She has been published in journals including Kenyon Review Online, Black Warrior Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, and Massachusetts Review. Her poems have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net, and anthologized in books including Being Palestinian. She holds a BA in Comparative Literature from the University of Washington and an MFA from Pacific Lutheran University.

Brian Turner

Brian Turner is a poet and memoirist who served seven years in the U.S. Army. He is the author of two poetry collections, Phantom Noise and Here, Bullet, which won the 2005 Beatrice Hawley Award, the New York Times “Editor’s Choice” selection, the 2006 PEN Center USA “Best in the West” award, and the 2007 Poets Prize. Turner’s work has been published in National Geographic, The New York Times, Poetry Daily, and Harper’s Magazine. Turner has been awarded a United States Artists Fellowship, an NEA Fellowship, and a Lannan Foundation Fellowship. His recent memoir, My Life as a Foreign Country, has been called, “achingly, disturbingly, shockingly beautiful.”

Robert Wrigley

Robert Wrigley has lived much of his adult life in the Northwest, mostly in Idaho, where he is Distinguished Professor Emeritus at the University of Idaho. He has published ten books of poetry, including, mostly recently Box (2017) and Anatomy of Melancholy (2013). He is the recipient of the Kingsley Tufts Award, the Poets’ Prize, the San Francisco Poetry Center Book Award, and a Pacific Northwest Book Award. His poems have appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, Poetry, and other magazines. He lives in the woods with his wife, the writer Kim Barnes.

Phyllis L Ennes Poetry Contest Finalist: Michael Bonacci

Michael Bonacci is a 15 year Skagit Valley transplant from Minnesota and Vermont where he received his BA in English from Saint John’s University and a MFA in Creative Writing from Vermont College. Besides writing poetry, he enjoys adapting historical documents for the stage and has had several plays produced in New York, Minneapolis and Seattle. His poetry chapbook, The Former Saint Christopher, was published by Floating Bridge Press, and several of his poems appeared on buses in the King County Metro System. Most recently, his poems were part of Poetry in Nature sponsored by Skagit Regional Hospital, Mount Vernon City Library, and Friends of the Mount Vernon Library. Michael lives in Mount Vernon with his husband David Bricka and their amazing dog, Buddy.

Phyllis L Ennes Poetry Contest Finalist: Carla Homstad

Carla Homstad was born in Montana and lived there most of her life. She studied history at the University of Montana but was lucky enough to take poetry classes from Madeline DeFrees and Richard Hugo. After 20 years as a consulting historian, she retired to focus more on poetry and has benefitted from study with the Beargrass Writers’ Retreat and 406 Writers’ Workshops. She now lives in the Bitterroot Valley south of Missoula, where she listens for geese and leans on mountains when the wind acts up.

Phyllis L Ennes Poetry Contest Finalist: Edith Walden

Edith M. Walden was born and raised in Boise, Idaho. She studied poetry with Nelson Bentley at the University of Washington and earned a teaching fellowship and an MFA at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. She taught poetry in the Connecticut Poets-in-the-Schools program and at the New Haven Correctional Center. Her poems have appeared in the Iowa Review, Calyx, and Oberon Poetry Magazine, among others. After working as a managing editor in a large software company, she now lives in the San Juan Islands where she farms a commercial organic orchard. She recently retired as the editor-in-chief and lead reporter for the Guemes Tide.

Phyllis L Ennes Poetry Contest Finalist: Jade Carter

Jade Carter is a Junior at Anacortes High School with an affinity for the arts.  An avid creator and investigator of the human experience, her poetry reflects the juxtaposition between internal struggles and external beauty.  When not writing, Jade enjoys participating in local theater productions, singing, and exploring the outdoors.