Join us for the “Passing of the Laurel” to celebrate Rena Priest’s appointment as Washington State’s sixth Poet Laureate. The celebration will stream online from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 14.


Rena Priest, an American Book Award-winning poet and member of the Lhaq’temish (Lummi) Nation, is the first Indigenous poet be appointed Poet Laureate for Washington State. She has been appointed by Governor Jay Inslee for a two-year term, from April 14, 2021 to March 31, 2023.

"I have had the pleasure of working with Rena a few times over the years, most recently as a contributor to our collection Seismic: Seattle, City of Literature,” said Stesha Brandon, Literature & Humanities Program Manager for The Seattle Public Library. “Her writing is vital and incisive and I'm thrilled that she's been named our new Poet Laureate.”


Past Laureates Claudia Castro Luna, Tod Marshall, Elizabeth Austen, Kathleen Flenniken, and Sam Green (in absentia) will be present as honored guests as we gather to pass the laurel in an evening of poetry, speech and song.

This very special event is organized and hosted by the Lhaq’temish (Lummi) Nation, Humanities Washington, ArtsWA, and the Washington Center for the Book (a partnership of the The Seattle Public Library and the Washington State Library). The event is produced by Children of the Setting Sun Productions.


The Washington State Poet Laureate program is jointly sponsored by Humanities Washington and the Washington State Arts Commission (ArtsWA). Poet laureates work to build awareness and appreciation of poetry—including the state’s legacy of poetry—through public readings, workshops, lectures and presentations in communities throughout the state.

Laureates are selected through an application and panel review process that evaluates candidates’ writing acumen, commitment to reaching diverse communities, and experience promoting poetry.


The Seattle Public Library will begin offering limited in-building services at the Lake City, Southwest and Beacon Hill branches starting April 27. Visit the Library's Road to Reopening page for more information on Curbside Service, book returns and other services.

Contact the Library’s Ask Us service by phone at 206-386-4636 or by email or chat at Staff are ready to answer questions and direct you to helpful resources and information during this challenging time.