North County Outlook - Community newspaper serving Marysville, Arlington, Tulalip, Smokey Point, Lakewood

State poet laureate to read at Hibulb Center


February 28, 2018 | View PDF

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Washington state's current Poet Laureate Claudia Castro Luna who will be stopping by the Hibulb Cultural Center in March to read.

As part of the Hibulb Cultural Center's monthly poetry series, Washington state's current poet laureate Claudia Castro Luna will come to read on March 1.

The program is from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the center at 6410 23rd Ave. NE, Tulalip. The program is free and open to the public.

Luna is scheduled to speak until around 6:45 p.m. and then there will be a break followed by an open mic.

The center's monthly poetry readings and open mic nights began as a way to support local artists, said Karen Shoaf-Mitchell, a retired English teacher who helps organize the event.

"Because the Tribes celebrate oral presentation, they wanted to encourage poets if they wanted to do readings of their poetry," she said.

"We try to keep the cultural fires burning," she said.

The program began in 2011 and Shoaf-Mitchell, who lives in Tulalip, was asked if she could help run it.

She now looks around the state for poets to bring in. "I keep my ear to the ground," she said.

Poets have come from around the state, including teachers from Gonzaga University. Other are more local, like Tulalip Tribal members.

They are encouraged to share about their poems as well.

"I suggest the poets give some backstory on their poems so that the audience can connect with them easier," said Shoaf-Mitchell.

Claudia Castro Luna will actually be the second state poet laureate featured in the program.

"She is a prominent Seattle poet and also a teacher," said Shoaf-Mitchell. "We're very fortunate to get her to come down and we consider it an honor."

Luna will also be the first immigrant to speak at the series, said Shoaf-Mitchell.

Many people have come to share their poems at the program during the open mic, said Shoaf-Mitchell, from teenagers to community college students to local church members.

"Usually it takes a little bit of encouragement from me," she said. "If anyone is not interested there is no pressure."

Shoaf-Mitchell said she always enjoys finding locals who have not been published and are not professional writers.

"Sometimes you're just blown away," she said, mentioning Tulalip Tribal members like Marci Fryberg, who works at the casino or David Spencer, an 80-year-old Tribal member who translated some of his poems into Lushootseed (the traditional language of many Salish Native American tribes).

Shoaf-Mitchell said people like the atmosphere of the events.

"I think people like the intimate environment," Shoaf-Mitchell said. "We read in the longhouse room at the center, which is a replica of the Tribes' actual longhouse."

She encourages people to stop by for the free event.

"This is a highlight that is right in our back yard," she said.

The center's poetry series happens the first Thursday of each month, although they usually skip July and August because the weather is nice enough that people don't want to be indoors, said Shoaf-Mitchell.

For more information on the Hibulb Cultural Center and their programs go to


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