Meet Seattle's first 'Civic Poet'

KING 5's Chris Daniels reports.

SEATTLE - When it comes to a turn of phrase, Claudia Castro Luna could be called a "wordsmith".

"We write lines in our head, that's part of being human," she said, while flipping through poetry at Seattle's Public Library.

She holds a new title now, the first of its kind in Seattle: Civic Poet.

"It's a wonderful title, I agree," said the West Seattleite.

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray appointed Luna to the position, which is governed by the Seattle Office of Arts and Culture. She'll be paid $10,000 over the next two years to teach and craft original poems about the city.

It's not because she's lived a life of rhyme. Luna is quick to point out that poems should have a rhythm and sound like a song. She hold a Masters of Arts in Urban Planning, and in poetry, her work has been published multiple times.

She jumped at the chance to serve as an ambassador and be part of the fabric of the city. She says she'll likely craft poems like one she wrote called "Building Permits."

The city is

what we say

unrevised lexicons frame

and nothing changes

streets get fixed,

businesses fold, new ones go up

dogs bark across fences

we hold grief and laughter

in cupped hands

some try, and do,

use an alternate syntax

we talk the city

make and discard, taste and chew

glasses clink, cracked lips sting

as we boast so is the map drawn

and underneath the living room carpet

considerable things remain

"I think of poems as gifts," she said. "This is really a chance to reach out to people through all sectors, to express themselves through poetry and bring the people not at the table to the center."

She hopes that she can heighten interest in the craft that matches the rapid growth in the city, and says wouldn't that be poetic.

"It may mean that Seattle is breaking ground yet again. That would be really neat wouldn't it?"

Luna is scheduled to make her first appearance as Civic Poet next month, at the mayor's arts awards.


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