The City of Auburn’s Poet Laureate, Susan Landgraf, has been selected as a 2020 Poets Laureate Fellow from the Academy of American Poets! This is an incredible honor, and she will be awarded $50,000 for her proposed civic poetry program in Auburn.
Landgraf will partner with the Muckleshoot Tribe and Reservation and the City of Auburn to offer poetry workshops at the Tribal School and in the Auburn Public Schools Tribal Programs, as well as for adults and children at the Tribal Center. The project will culminate in a book of participants’ poems, as well as a series of readings on the Reservation, in the City of Auburn, and at the State Capitol.
“As we face the crisis of the Covid-19 pandemic, more and more people are turning to poetry for comfort and courage. We are honored and humbled in this moment of great need to fund poets who are talented artists and community organizers, who will most certainly help guide their communities forward,” said Jennifer Benka, President and Executive Director of the Academy of American Poets. Through its Poets Laureate Fellowship program, the Academy has become the largest financial supporter of poets in the nation. The fellowship program is made possible by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, which, in January of this year, awarded the Academy $4.5 million. The award will fund the program in 2020, 2021, and 2022.
“We are gratified to support the Poets Laureate Fellows as they engage their communities around the unprecedented challenges of our moment, making work that provides meaning, brings beauty, and helps us, in Lucille Clifton’s words, ‘sail through this to that,’” said Elizabeth Alexander, poet and President of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
Susan Landgraf is an accomplished poet and journalist. She is the author of What We Bury Changes the Ground (Tebot Bach, 2017) as well as The Inspired Poet (Two Sylvias Press, 2019), a book of writing exercises. Landgraf has taught at Highline College and Jiao Tong University in Shanghai, as well as the Port Townsend Writers’ Conference. As Poet Laureate of the City of Auburn, Landgraf has taught a series of successful teen writing workshops at the Auburn Public Library called the “Young Writers Group,” and has worked with the Auburn Library to create adult writing workshops also. She has been a featured poet at Auburn’s annual “Poets on the Ave” national poetry month event, was a guest reader at the annual “Poets on the Farm” event with Northwest Rennaissance Poets at the Mary Olson Farm, and has also read her poetry at many City events including the Veteran’s Day parade and 4th of July event.
“My goal as Poet Laureate of Auburn is to open the window of poetry to more people during my tenure,” states Landgraf. Her passion for poetry is extraordinary and her desire to give back to the community has been an incredible gift to Auburn. We are thrilled to see Susan Landgraf receive this competitive and significant award, wish her many congratulations, and will look forward to supporting her project and the many ways it will engage with the Auburn community through the art of poetry.
These were thy charms, sweet village…
Oliver Goldsmith “The Deserted Village”
Under the shadow of Mt. Rainier
lies Sweet Auburn, loveliest village of the plain,
with a supermall, college, Boeing, trades,
and a main street that keeps
its Main Street USA appearance.
The Burlington Northern Santa Fe tracks
stitch one side of town to the other; lights flash,
and the great arms fall for the metal snake
that clickety clacks through, shaking the sidewalks.
Young men go off to war. Babies get born.
Lawns get mowed. There’s a Veterans Day parade
and crime, a police station, hospital, museum,
graduations, and notable people.
And there is to be found still
The cooling brook, the grassy vested green,
The breeze covert of the warbling grove…
loveliest village of the plain…
thy charms have not been withdrawn or sold.
And under the great volcano’s shadow,
sweet Auburn still does lie.
by Susan Landgraf
For more information about Auburn’s Poet Laureate and other arts programming, visit www.auburnwa.gov/arts