Meet our 2022 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. /

Originally hailing from NYC, Roberto Carlos Ascalon has lived in Seattle for over 22 years. He is a Kundiman, Jack Straw, and Artist Trust fellow, a two-time Seattle Slam Team member, and the winner of the 2013 Rattle Poetry Prize for the poem “The Fire This Time, or, How Come Some Brown Boys Get Blazed Right Before  And Other Questions Without Marks”. His teaching artistry has exhibited in museums across Seattle and earned him a trip to the White House where he received the honor of shaking hands with President Obama. He currently teaches with The Greater Seattle Bureau of Fearless Ideas.

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.

Claudia Castro Luna is an Academy of American Poets Poet Laureate fellow (2019), WA State Poet Laureate (2018 – 2021) and Seattle’s inaugural Civic Poet (2015-2018). Castro Luna’s newest collection of poetry,Cipota Under the Moon, is forthcoming April 2022 from Tia Chucha Press. She is also the author of One River, A Thousand Voices (Chin Music Press), the Pushcart nominated  Killing Marías(Two Sylvias Press) also shortlisted for WA State 2018 Book Award in poetry, and the chapbook This City (Floating Bridge Press). Her most recent non-fiction is in There’s a Revolution Outside, My Love: Letters from a Crisis (Vintage). Born in El Salvador she came to the United States in 1981. Living in English and Spanish, Claudia writes and teaches in Seattle on unceded Duwamish lands where she gardens and keeps chickens with her husband and their three children.

An Officer of the Order of Canada, Lorna Crozier has been acknowledged for her contributions to Canadian literature, her teaching and her mentoring with five honourary doctorates, most recently from McGill and Simon Fraser Universities. Her books have received numerous national awards, including the Governor-General’s Award for Poetry. The Globe and Mail declared The Book of Marvels: A Compendium of Everyday Things one of its Top 100 Books of the Year, and Amazon chose her memoir as one of the 100 books you should read in your lifetime. A Professor Emerita at the University of Victoria, she has performed for Queen Elizabeth II and has read her poetry, which has been translated into several languages, on every continent except Antarctica. Her book, What the Soul Doesn’t Want, was nominated for the 2017 Governor General’s Award for Poetry. In 2018, Lorna Crozier received the George Woodcock Lifetime Achievement Award. Steven Price called Through the Garden: A Love Story (with Cats), her latest nonfiction book, “one of the great love stories of our time.” Lorna Crozier lives on Vancouver Island.

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).


Michael Daley is a poet and novelist. Born in Boston and a long-time resident and teacher in Skagit Valley, his work is set in the rural Northwest, New England, and Eastern Europe where he’s lived as a Fulbright scholar. “An artisan of the present moment,” as Joseph Stroud called him, his recent books include Reinhabited: New & Selected Poems (Dos Madres, 2022), Telemachus, (Pleasure Boat Studio, 2022), The Madrona Project (Empty Bowl, 2022) and forthcoming, True Heresies (Cervena Barva, 2022) “Some poets are born with an internalized muse…with a will of her own…Daley is one of these hosts” (Boston Small Press Poetry Scene).

Kathleen Flenniken is the author of three poetry collections, most recently Post Romantic (University of Washington Press, 2020), a finalist for the Washington State Book Award. Plume (2012), a personal history in poems about the Hanford Nuclear Site, won the Washington State Book Award and was a finalist for the Poetry Society of America’s William Carlos Williams Award. Her first book, Famous (2006), won the Prairie Schooner Book Prize in Poetry and was named a notable book by the National Library Association. Kathleen served as Washington State Poet Laureate from 2012-2014.

Matt Gano is a career author and creative writing instructor with over 15 years of classroom experience as an Artist-In-Residence for Seattle Arts and Lectures, Writers in the Schools, and as a traveling Teaching Artist for the Skagit River Poetry Foundation. Matt is author of Suits for the Swarm, (MoonPath Press), co-founder of the Seattle Youth Poet Laureate Program, and former director of Fremont Abbey Arts Center’s NEXT STAGE program.

Gano’s most current work as a recording artist can be found on all streaming platforms under the moniker, ENTENDRES

Matt represented Seattle at the National Poetry Slam multiple years, is a former Seattle Grand-Slam champion.   He is the author of 6 chapbooks.

Jessica Gigot is a poet, farmer, and writing coach. Her second book of poems, Feeding Hour, was a finalist for the 2021 Washington State Book Award. Jessica’s writing and reviews appear in several publications such as The New York, Ecotone, and Poetry Northwest. Her memoir, A Little Bit of Land, will be published by Oregon State University Press in 2022.

Edward Harkness is the author of three full-length poetry collections, Saying the Necessary, Beautiful Passing Lives, and most recently, The Law of the Unforeseen (2018, Pleasure Boat Studio press). His poems have most recently appeared in, Valparasio Review, Sisyphus Review, Triggerfish Critical Review, Bracken Magazine, Nine Mile and Under a Warm Green Linden. Harkness’ chapbook, Ice Children, was published by Split Lip Press in 2014. He lives in Shoreline, Washington, about a mile from the house in Seattle where he grew up.

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.

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.

Jane Hirshfield, in poems described by The Washington Post as belonging “among the modern masters” and by The New York Times as “passionate and radiant,” addresses the urgent immediacies of our time. Ranging from the political, ecological, and scientific to the metaphysical, personal, and passionate, Hirshfield praises the radiance of particularity and reckons the consequence of the daily. Her poems and essays traverse the crises of the biosphere and of social justice. Her work lives in the intersections of facts and imagination, desire and loss, impermanence and beauty— all the dimensions of our shared existence within what one poem calls “the pure democracy of being.”  Her poems and essays have been translated into over a dozen languages and her work has been set by numerous composers, including John Adams and Philip Glass.

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 four collections of poetry, most recently Hold Fast, Passings, and Sailing by Ravens, coauthor of The Pen and The Bell: Mindful Writing in a Busy World, and editor of several anthologies, including Keep a Green Bough: Voices from the Heart of Cascadia, the second volume in The Madrona Project series.  Her fine art chapbook Passings received an American Book Award in 2017 and her poems and essays have been nominated for Pushcart prizes, set to music and performed in New York City and Sitka, Alaska. She served on the staff of Pacific Lutheran University’s low-residency MFA program for 13 years, in addition to teaching writing at the college level for several decades, as well as at Fishtrap, the North Cascades Institute, LitFuse and other regional conferences. She currently co-publishes Empty Bowl Press, directs Flying Squirrel Studio, which offers writing residencies for women and consults as a writing coach. She divides her time between a log cabin in Indianola and her home in the Chimacum valley.

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.

Artist, poet, and freelance writer, J.I. (Judy) Kleinberg was co-editor of 56 Days of August (Five Oaks Press 2017) and Noisy Water: Poetry from Whatcom County, Washington (Other Mind Press 2015). Her poetry, including more than 600 of her found poems, have been published in print and online journals worldwide. A solo exhibit of her visual poems, orchestrated light, was featured at Peter Miller Books, Seattle, in May 2022. She lives in Bellingham, Washington, where she co-facilitates the SpeakEasy poetry series and blogs on regional poetry at Find her on Instagram @jikleinberg.

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.


Sasha taqwšəblu LaPointe is from the Upper Skagit and Nooksack Indian Tribes. Native to the Pacific Northwest she draws inspiration from her coastal heritage as well as her life in the city. She writes with a focus on trauma and resilience, ranging topics from PTSD, sexual violence, the work her great grandmother did for the Lushootseed language revitalization, to loud basement punk shows and what it means to grow up mixed heritage. Her memoir Red Paint has received starred reviews from Kirkus and Shelf Awareness and is available through Counterpoint Press.

Her collection of poetry Rose Quartz is forthcoming from Milkweed in 2023.



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.

Rena Priest is a Poet and an enrolled member of the Lhaq’temish (Lummi) Nation. She has been appointed to serve as the Washington State Poet Laureate for the term of April 2021-2023.  She is a Vadon Foundation Fellow, and recipient of an Allied Arts Foundation Professional Poets Award. Her debut collection, Patriarchy Blues was published by MoonPath Press and received an American Book Award. She is a National Geographic Explorer (2018-2020) and a Jack Straw Writer (2019). She holds an MFA from Sarah Lawrence College.


Michael Rust grew up in Tacoma, Washington never hearing of Skagit Valley until his brother Dana threw a dart at a map and announced that’s where he was going to college. In the late 60’s, Mike studied poetry with John Logan at UW and worked on the magazine Choice. After seven years in British Columbia dodging the draft, logging and finishing a degree, Mike ended up in Skagit Valley. He became interested in regenerative organic farming, so when he came back, he brought a bride, Mary Louise, bought 29 acres and a barn on the Skagit River and started Snow Goose Produce in 1985 because he needed a job. Mary Louise and Mike published a kid’s book, The Slug Feeds the Duck, and That’s a Piece of Luck which he touts as “a suspenseful visionary explanation of almost everything.” His new book, a collection poems, Memoir of Lightning, printed in fine letterpress and handbound, was produced by Jules Faye & Richard Seibert.

Susan Rich is the author of five collections of poems including Gallery of Postcards and Maps: New and Selected Poems (Salmon Press)  as well as Cloud Pharmacy (White Pine Press). Her poems appear in the Antioch Review, Harvard Review, Poetry Northwest, Poetry Ireland Review, and Witness. Her work has earned awards from 4 Culture, Artists Trust, the Fulbright Foundation, the Missouri Review,  and the Times (of London) Literary Review.

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

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.

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 ReviewThe Missouri ReviewThe SunOrion, and Ecotone. Wilkins’s debut novel, Fall Back Down When I Die (2019), shortlisted for the Center For Fiction’s First Novel Awardwas 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.

Jane Wong is the author of How to Not Be Afraid of Everything (Alice James, 2021) and Overpour (Action Books, 2016). Her debut memoir, Meet Me Tonight in Atlantic City is forthcoming from Tin House in 2023. A Kundiman fellow, she is the recipient of a Pushcart Prize and fellowships and residencies from Harvard’s Woodberry Poetry Room, the U.S. Fulbright Program, Artist Trust, the Fine Arts Work Center, Bread Loaf, Hedgebrook, Willapa Bay, the Jentel Foundation, and others. She is an Associate Professor of Creative Writing at Western Washington University.


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.