Poet Elizabeth Austen

Washington state poet laureate visits WWU

The current Washington state poet laureate, Elizabeth Austen, will read at Walla Walla University on Tuesday, Nov. 10, at 7 p.m. at the Chan Shun Pavilion Lecture Hall, room 154.

The state poet laureate is selected every two years and is sponsored by Humanities Washington and the Washington State Arts Commission with funding from the National Endowment for the Arts. Walla Walla County is the last of 39 counties that Austen is to visit as a part of her two-year tour of the state.

Austen is a communications specialist and educator at Seattle Children’s Hospital, contributor to Seattle’s KUOW radio, and author of the poetry book, “Every Dress a Decision”. Named the Washington state poet laureate in 2014, Austen has traveled from county to county, visiting schools, colleges, and prisons, where she presents poetry workshops and readings. It is the poet laureate’s duty to represent the legacy of Washington’s literary history and to use poetry to inspire communities throughout the state.

“Good poetry is hard work,” said Daniel Lamberton, WWU professor of English, about the state poet laureate position. “They don’t just go around picking flowers.”

“I’m glad that someone who has toured the whole state, featuring Washington poets in numerous events, is going to be here, so that our students and community have the chance to connect to the literary history of our state,” said Lamberton, who has been on the Humanities Washington poet laureate selection committee for 12 years. “What’s powerful about a poetry reading is that you hear things clearly that you may have thought or felt, but couldn’t find the words to say.” Lamberton concluded, “That’s what poetry is—a fascination with difficulty.”

Elizabeth Austen’s performance will be free and open to the public. The Chan Shun Pavilion is located at 100 SW Fourth St., College Place.

Posted Nov. 4, 2015

Elizabeth Austen makes the final stop of her two-year tour at WWU after visiting each of Washington's 39 counties.