There’s a certain poetry in the momentum and sound of water as it cascades over rocks and laps against the shore.
Poets and lovers of verse will have a chance to experience that energy this weekend with Washington poet laureate Claudia Castro Luna, who’s traveling around the state holding poetry workshops and readings connected with the Columbia River.
“One River: Many Voices” is part of Castro Luna’s goal to use poetry to bridge the physical and cultural geography of the state. Castro Luna notes that sometimes people think of Washington in eastern and western halves, but the Columbia River runs mostly down the middle.
So Castro Luna is traveling the length of the Columbia, from the northeastern corner of Washington to where the river flows into the Pacific Ocean. In addition to inspiring people through poetry and words, “One River: Many Voices” will highlight the importance of the river as a natural resource, and its sense of place, ecology and history.
Because the river is part of a larger watershed, the project will also embrace rivers that flow into the Columbia, including the Methow River. “It’s a way of creating community through poetry. People will deepen their craft and learn how to write a poem,” Castro Luna said.
“One River, Many Voices” is a year-long project. The project and free workshops – in communities and schools – will celebrate the power of words and stories to define ourselves and our communities, Castro Luna said.
Castro Luna is one of 13 poets laureate across the country to be honored by the Academy of American Poets, which is sponsoring “One River, Many Voices” as a way of broadening people’s understanding of the role poetry plays in their lives. “Claudia Castro Luna is a poet whose work exemplifies how poetry can spark conversation and can help us learn about one another’s lives and unique experiences,” Jennifer Benka, executive director of the academy, said.
Poems, stories, photos and videos from the project will be posted online at www.rivervoiceswa.com. The website will be organized around Castro Luna’s stops along the Columbia, from Kettle Falls, to Pateros and Twisp, the Tri-Cities, and ultimately to Cathlamet, near the ocean.
“I hope that when the project concludes in April 2020, the site will reflect all the ways in which Washingtonians converged along this majestic waterway to share stories and anecdotes, to write, read and recite poetry that tells of the interior and of the physical landscapes of our lives,” Castro Luna said.
Poets also have the opportunity to have their work published in a special section being published by the Kettle Falls Statesman Examiner, which is documenting Castro Luna’s journey.
Castro Luna is holding a free workshop on Saturday (Oct. 19) in Pateros at the fire hall (191 Industrial Way) from 1 to 3 p.m., followed by a reading with poets from Pateros and Brewster high schools at 4 p.m.
The next day, Sunday (Oct. 20), Castro Luna heads north to Twisp for a free poetry workshop at Methow Arts on Glover Street from 10 a.m. to noon. No experience is necessary.
Sign up for the workshop at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, call 997-4004.