Civic Poet

About the Seattle Civic Poet Program

Launched in 2015, the Seattle Civic Poet program is inspired by the previous Poet Populist program instituted in 1999 by Seattle City Councilmember Nick Licata. The goal of the Poet Populist program was to support the practice of literary arts, and democracy, and to promote local literary arts organizations to a general audience citywide. The Poet Populist program was discontinued in 2008. The Civic Poet program continues the legacy of the Poet Populist program by fostering community dialogue and engagement between the public and artists while celebrating the literary arts. 

Civic Poet 2025-26

Civic Poet Shin Yu Pai throwing hair around

Civic Poet 2023-24: Shin Yu Pai. Photo by James Arzente.

The Seattle Office of Arts & Culture (ARTS), in partnership with the Seattle City of Literature, commissions and supports an experienced poet for a two-year residency. The Civic Poet is a cultural ambassador for Seattle's rich, multi-hued literary landscape and represents Seattle's diverse cultural community. The selected awardee will receive $25,000 for their two-year commission from early 2025 through the end of 2026. In addition to annual City events, the Civic Poet will foster community dialogue and engagement between the City, the public, and other artists, while celebrating the literary arts.

As the City’s two-year ambassador of poetry, the role of the Civic Poet is to develop an annual workplan, execute a range of creative opportunities citywide, and deliver a closing debrief at the end of each year. These opportunities can include readings, workshops, projects, as well as speaking engagements – all in tandem with literary and community partners. The Civic Poet curates public occasions that connect and engage communities, City departments, and residents while promoting the value of poetry. As a featured presenter, the Civic Poet will participate in two annual public events with the Seattle City of Literature and for National Poetry Month.   

Please read the guidelines for full details.

Español Tiếng Việt 中文(简体) Soomaali አማርኛ Tagalog 한국어

Eligibility 

This call is open to Seattle-based poets who have an established body of work including published/self-published works, reading/spoken word, plus project planning experience, and applied racial equity practice. You are eligible if: 

  • You are based in Seattle (your residence is in the City of Seattle)

  • You are eligible to work in the U.S. 
  • You are 18+ years of age at the time of the application due date 
  • You are not an enrolled student at any level at the time of the application due date 
  • You have demonstrated interest/experience in promoting equity and inclusion through the arts 
  • You show strong program planning and implementation with partnerships 

Funding 

The compensation for the two-year Civic Poet commission is $25,000. Funding is for a two-year period and covers time for writing, administration, artist fees, performances, event costs, materials, travel, fees, taxes, and other project-related costs. 

Due Date 

Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2024, 5 p.m. (Pacific) 

Information Session (Hybrid) 

Learn more about the program and how to submit your best application. 

Monday, July 22, 1 - 3 p.m. (Pacific) 
In-person: ARTS at King Street Station 
303 S Jackson St, Seattle, WA 98104 (Top floor, Room 315) 
Virtual: Microsoft Teams 
RSVP 

Application Draft Review Due Date 
Tuesday, Aug. 6, 5 p.m. (Pacific) 

Applicants can submit draft material for review and feedback up until Aug. 6 at 5 p.m. (Pacific). After Aug. 6, project managers are unable to provide full feedback but will be available to answer any questions and check for eligibility or completeness.

Application Assistance 
To request application assistance, email Project Manager Zach Frimmel at Zach.Frimmel@seattle.gov by Aug. 6 to set up a phone or virtual meeting.

Application  

Apply online through Submittable. It’s free to apply. If you don’t have computer or internet access, contact Zach Frimmel, Project Manager, at (206) 963-9226 or Zach.Frimmel@seattle.gov

If you have trouble, check the Submittable FAQ for step-by-step guides. You can also contact Submittable tech support at support@submittable.com.

Contact

For information and assistance with the application, eligibility, or online technical support, contact Zach Frimmel, Project Manager, at (206) 963-9226 or Zach.Frimmel@seattle.gov

We have interpreters who can speak to you in your language, including American Sign Language (via video). Just call us and tell us what language you speak. Expect a short pause while we find an interpreter to join the call.

 

Civic Poet 2023-24: Shin Yu Pai

Shin Yu Pai wearing a beanie and flannel. posing in front of a concrete wall. Photo by James McDaniel

The Seattle Office of Arts & Culture (ARTS) in partnership with the Seattle City of Literature announces the selection of Shin Yu Pai as the 2023-2024 Seattle Civic Poet. Pai is the fourth Civic Poet in the program’s history. 

Shin Yu Pai is a Seattle-based poet and the author of 11 books, including most recently No Neutral (Empty Bowl, 2023). She is the recipient of awards from the City of Seattle’s Office of Arts & Culture, 4Culture, and The Awesome Foundation. She is a 2022 Artist Trust Fellow and was shortlisted in 2014 for a Stranger Genius Award in Literature. From 2015 to 2017, Shin Yu served as Poet Laureate for The City of Redmond. Her nonfiction writing has appeared in Atlas Obscura, Tricycle Magazine, YES! Magazine, NYTimes, Zocalo Public Square, Seattle Met, ParentMap, Seattle’s Child, International Examiner, and South Seattle Emerald. Her work has appeared in publications throughout the U.S., Japan, China, Taiwan, the UK, and Canada. 

Pai is creator and host of an award-winning, chart-topping podcast Ten Thousand Things (formerly The Blue Suit) for KUOW, Seattle’s NPR affiliate station. 

More on Shin Yu Pai's Seattle Civic Poet term.

Past Civic Poets

2019-21 Civic Poet Jourdan Imani Keith speaking at a podium in front of a Seattle Office of Arts & Culture banner.

Photo by Marcus R. Donner

Jourdan Imani Keith, a student of Sonia Sanchez, is a poet, essayist, playwright, naturalist, and activist. Her writing blends the textures of political, personal, and natural landscapes to offer voices from the margins of American lives.  

A recipient of the 2018 Americans for the Arts award, her TEDx Talk, Your Body of Water became the theme for King County's 2016-2018 Poetry on Buses program. Her Orion Magazine essays, Desegregating Wilderness and At Risk were selected by Rebecca Skloot for the 2015 Best American Science and Nature Writing Anthology. A keeper of culture and history in the Griot (gree-oh) storytelling tradition, her ekphrastic poems were commissioned by the Northwest African American Museum to be featured as oversized text on its walls during its Glass Orchidarium exhibit. Keith's creation myth, We Were All Water was commissioned by Seattle Art Museum for a featured performance at the REMIX 

She has been awarded fellowships from Hedgebrook, Wildbranch, Santa Fe Science Writing workshop, VONA, and Jack Straw. As Seattle Public Library's first naturalist-in-Residence, she designed "Natural Literacy,"  a curriculum linking environmental and early childhood literacy. Keith is the founder and director of the gender, ethnicity, and environmental justice organization, Urban Wilderness Project. She's received awards from the University of Washington, Artist Trust, 4Culture, and Seattle's Office of Arts and Culture. Her memoir in essays, Tugging at the Web is forthcoming from the University of Washington Press. 

Learn More

Anastacia-Renée smiling in a yellow dress and red shoes, standing in front of a red wall.

Anastacia-Renée is a multi-genre writer, educator, and interdisciplinary artist. She was the Seattle Civic Poet from 2017-2019, recipient of the 2018 James W. Ray Distinguished Artist award for Washington artists (Artist Trust), 2017 Artist of the Year, and former 2015-2017 Poet-in-Residence at Hugo House.

Learn More

Claudia Castro Luna

Claudia Castro Luna's muse is the city, from little libraries and food trucks to the green tunnels of Lincoln Park.

Claudia left her native El Salvador at the age of 14 escaping the Civil War with her family. Resilient to the low expectations of high school counselors, she went on to study Anthropology and French at the University of California Irvine and earned an MA in Urban Planning from UCLA. Fluent in German, she is a K-12 certified teacher with a passion for arts education and teaching immigrants.

In 2012 she earned an MFA in poetry from Mills College. She was a 2014 Jack Straw fellow and is a recent recipient of a King County 4Culture grant. Her poems have appeared in Milvia Street, The Womanist, Riverbabble, and forthcoming in the Taos Journal of Poetry and Art. She has been a featured reader for the Berkeley Poetry Festival and for NPR-affiliate KALW. Claudia is also writing a memoir, an excerpt of which appears in the 2014 Jack Straw Writers' Anthology. Living in English and Spanish, Claudia writes and teaches in Seattle where she gardens and keeps chickens with her husband and their three children.

Learn More

Arts & Culture

Gülgün Kayim, Director
Address: 303 S. Jackson Street, Top Floor, Seattle, WA , 98104
Mailing Address: PO Box 94748, Seattle, WA , 98124-4748
Phone: (206) 684-7171
Fax: (206) 684-7172
arts.culture@seattle.gov

Newsletter Updates

Subscribe

Sign up for the latest updates from Arts & Culture

The Office of Arts & Culture promotes the value of arts and culture in, and of, communities throughout Seattle. It strives to ensure that a wide range of high-quality artistic experiences are available to everyone, encourage artist-friendly arts and cultural policy.