Claudia Castro Luna grew up in El Salvador and fled the war-stricken county with her family in 1981, when she was a teenager. Castro Luna, who has always loved books and reading, is now based in Seattle and is the poet laureate of Washington. In that role, she communicates her passion for language and books with people of all ages across the state. This week, people in the Methow will get to share Castro Luna’s vision.
Local students — at Liberty Bell High School, in Brewster and in Okanogan — will get to explore that world with Castro Luna in poetry workshops this week. She will share her poems and passion for language at a free poetry reading at Trail’s End Bookstore in Winthrop on Thursday (Sept. 27) from 5:30 to 7 p.m.
Because she believes in the importance of universal access to books, Castro Luna wrote about how libraries “have literally saved people’s lives” during National Library Week, this past April.
Although there was no public library where she grew up in El Salvador, she was surrounded by books at home, since her parents were teachers and avid readers. She was even a member of a book-of-the-month club, where she read classics of literature from the Americas and Spain.
Castro Luna, who says she rarely writes love poems, considers libraries the “mothers of love” because everyone is welcome to the books on their shelves, and to the ideas and feelings the books contain. “Avarice and knowledge hoarding are anathema to public libraries; libraries keep the flame of democracy alive,” she wrote.
Before becoming the state’s poet laureate, Castro Luna held a similar post for the city of Seattle, when she penned one of those few love poems, “Ode to Library Books.” It begins with these verses:
“Because more than ink glints beneath the rails of the printed page
Because like snow flakes, each person’s hands profile unique lines
Because every time a library book is borrowed, lifelines overlay each other
Because borrowed books bear fingerprint constellations on their backs
Because on borrowed pages we leave something of ourselves behind as tender evidence.”
Castro Luna’s most recent poetry collection is “Killing Marias: A Poem for Multiple Voices,” which reclaims the lives and struggles of the disappeared women of Ciudad Juárez in poems full of love and empathy.