YVC Hosts Washington State Poet Laureate Rena Priest

The Yakima Valley College English Department and Diversity Series will host Washington State Poet Laureate Rena Priest for a public reading and talk on May 21, 2021 at 11:30 AM. Click here to attend the online event.

Priest, a member of the Lhaq’temish (Lummi) Nation, is the first Indigenous poet to hold the poet laureate position. She has a bachelor’s degree in English from Western Washington University and a master’s of fine arts in writing from Sarah Lawrence College (Bronxville, N.Y.). Priest has received the Allied Arts Foundation 2020 Professional Poets Award and fellowships from Hawthornden Castle, Hedgebrook, Mineral School and the Vadon Foundation. Her work has appeared in Poetry Northwest, Pontoon Poetry, Verse Daily, Poem-a-Day at Poets.org and elsewhere, and she has taught cultural studies and Native American literature at Western Washington University and Northwest Indian College. Her most recent poetry collection is “Sublime Subliminal.”

Priest’s first book, “Patriarchy Blues,” was honored with the 2018 American Book Award.  She succeeds poet laureates Claudia Castro Luna (2018-2021), Tod Marshall (2016-2018), Elizabeth Austen (2014-2016), Kathleen Flenniken (2012–2014) and Sam Green (2007–2009). Her term began April 15.

In April 2007, the Washington State Legislature passed a bill that recognized the value of poetry to the culture and heritage of the state by establishing the Washington State Poet Laureate. The poet laureate serves to build awareness and appreciation of poetry — including the state’s legacy of poetry — through public readings, workshops, lectures and presentations in communities, schools, colleges, universities and other public settings in the state. The appointed poet laureate serves a two-year term.

The Washington State Poet Laureate is sponsored by Humanities Washington and the Washington State Arts Commission, with the support of Gov. Jay Inslee. The position is funded by the National Endowment for the Arts and Humanities Washington. Poets can self-nominate every two years through an application process.

The English Department at YVC provides core reading, writing and literature courses for all students and offers multiple associate degree and transfer programs which delve into the studies of composition, reading, literature and creative writing.

Since 2005 Yakima Valley College has partnered with several local area organizations to host events and lectures through its annual Diversity Series. The events provide YVC the opportunity to bring diverse perspectives to everyday topics and push the boundaries of the term beyond race, gender, social class and sexuality.

For more information contact YVC English Instructor Mark Fuzie at mfuzie@yvcc.edu or 574.6800 x 3160.

Press Release Contacts:
Dustin Wunderlich / 509.574.6870 / dwunderlich@yvcc.edu
Stefanie Menard / 509.574.4646 / smenard@yvcc.edu