A Free Evening of Poetry with Rena Priest Online

A Free Evening of Poetry with Rena Priest Online

A Free Evening of Poetry with Rena Priest Online

Event Details

Nov 12, 2022 from 05:30 PM to 07:00 PM
Anywhere you wish
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Join us online for a FREE poetry reading with Washington State's Poet Laureate Rena Priest, the first Indigenous poet laureate of our Evergreen State.

Priest is a member of the Lhaq’temish (Lummi) Nation, and she earned degrees from Western Washington University and Sarah Lawrence College. Her literary debut, Patriarchy Blues, was honored with a 2018 American Book Award, and her second collection, Sublime Subliminal, was published as the finalist for the Floating Bridge Press Chapbook Award.

In her poems you will find multiple perspectives, a full suite of linguistic skills, and an incredible blend of wit, sentiment, perceptivity and boldness. Hearing her work read aloud offers insights into our relationship with the natural world, compassion with the human experience, humorous takes on life and her perspective as a member of Lummi Nation.

For this special engagement, in addition to hearing Priest's poetry, we will be treated to a short workshop on the possibilities that poetry opens up. You are encouraged to follow along at home - you never know what might happen! We will finish the evening with some time for questions.

We are honored to be collaborating with Priest on what will be a rich and thought-provoking evening.

(A Poem Is a) Naming Ceremony
By Rena Priest

What has grown out of what has gone away?
The clear-cut patch has grown larger on the mountain.
The rivers have grown murky with timber trash,
and there’s enough run-off cow manure to grow corn
out there on the tide flats. I don’t want to think about
what has gone away. I want to meander and play
and forget myself until I can grow a new me
in place of all this grief—learn the language to see
the cotton wood as kwealich ice, the dancing tree;
the killer whales as quell’ lhol mechen, our relatives
under the sea; the whole glorious landscape
filled with meaning to end my grieving.

When I was young, I was invited to learn
Xwilngexw’qen, the people’s language,
but I said no. I didn’t understand. I thought
I wanted to learn how to be rich. I didn’t know
that the only way to posses all the weather
of the world is by naming it—here is bird song,
here is the kiss of a lover, here is the feel
of cold water at the peak of summer.
I have spent my life with words, trying to name
a hint of what I lost by not learning my language.
Estitemsen. Tu totest sen. Estitemsen.*

* I’m doing my best. I’m still learning. I’m doing my best.

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Top image courtesy of Humanities WA