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First-ever Muckleshoot Poetry Collection showcases work of over 50

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A new poetry collection – “A Muckleshoot Poetry Anthology: At the Confluence of the Green and White Rivers” – curated by Susan Landgraf and published by Washington State University Press, originated from a grant and more than a dozen workshops.

The book showcases the work of two artists and more than 50 poets from different tribal heritages living on the Muckleshoot Indian Reservation.

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Expressive and moving, the participants’ pieces are about searching and belonging, loss and finding. Many are stories of “what happened” and “why.” All share a common theme—a reaching back and a reaching forward—sometimes in the same poem. Composed by writers who range in age from elementary school to adult, they highlight Muckleshoot history and culture, but also spotlight individual histories, lessons, and beliefs.

“I had heard about a call for proposals from the Academy of American Poets and because I was Poet Laureate of Auburn, Washington, at that time, I thought it was a wonderful opportunity—but I had no project in mind. A week before the deadline, I woke up one morning with the thought that it was right here in my backyard, ‘We are the Muckleshoot,’” Landgraf explains. “I wanted to know more about who the Muckleshoot people are. I wanted to hear their voices in poetry, since I am a poet. To my knowledge, no one had published an anthology of poetry by people of the Tribe. So I applied. I got the request sent off four hours before the deadline,” Landgraf says. She received the grant in June 2020, just as the Covid 19 shutdown started, so it took several months to get the word out about the workshops and anthology. She finished curating the manuscript fourteen months later, in August 2021, and says her favorite parts were conducting the poetry workshops and having the poems come in. “It was like Valentine’s Day every time I found a new poet in my email.”

Muckleshoot is the Native name for the prairie on which the 6.128 square-mile reservation was established in 1857. Federally recognized as descendants of the Duwamish and Upper Puyallup people who inhabited Central Puget Sound thousands of years before non-Indian settlement, approximately 3,600 people live on the reservation located near the original confluence of the Green and White rivers. The two vital tributaries held the sacred salmon and served as “highways” for the people. Tribal members view the land as linked to their heritage, stating, “What we were lasts only as long as we carry the memory.” This new work helps carry the memory.

Published by Washington State University Press, A Muckleshoot Poetry Anthology is paperback, 6″ x 9″, 110 pages, and lists for $10. It is available through bookstores nationwide, direct from WSU Press at 800-354-7360, or online at wsupress.wsu.edu. A nonprofit academic publisher associated with Washington State University in Pullman, Washington, WSU Press concentrates on telling unique, focused stories of the Northwest.

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About Susan Landgraf:

An accomplished poet, Susan Landgraf received an Academy of American Poets’ Laureate award in 2020 and served as Poet Laureate of Auburn, Washington, from 2018 to 2020. Committed to helping others express themselves through writing, she has given more than 150 workshops and readings in the US and abroad, including the San Miguel Writers’ Conference, the Port Townsend Writers’ Conference, and the Marine and Science Technology Center. She is the recipient of multiple awards, including a Theodore Morrison Scholar Poetry Award for Breadloaf, as well as Artist Trust, Jack Straw, and King County Arts Commission grants. A former journalist, she taught at Highline College for 30 years and at Shanghai Jiao Tong University. Landgraf’s newest book, Journey of Trees, is set to be released in 2024. Ravenna Press published her book, Crossings, as part of its Triple series in 2022. Her other books include The Inspired Poet, What We Bury Changes the Ground, a chapbook titled Other Voices, and Student Reflection Journal for Student Success published by Prentice Hall. More than 400 of her poems have appeared in Prairie Schooner, Poet Lore, Margie, Nimrod, Third Wednesday, Calyx, Rattle, and others.

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