REDMOND, WA – The City of Redmond’s poet laureate, Laura Da’ was named one of 23 recipients nationwide to be awarded a fellowship from the Academy of American Poets Laureate. This award grants each recipient $50,000 and is given to honor poets of literary merit who are appointed to serve in civic positions. The award aims to support poets in their continued creation of meaningful, impactful, and innovative projects that engage their fellow residents, including youth, with poetry.
Da’ has focused much of her work in Redmond on land-based connections to poetry ranging from physical poetry prompts in Redmond parks and trails to video and text artistically projected in Downtown Park. Her projects encourage residents to reflect on conservation, connection, and histories of the land and community. She’s taken notice of how strikingly unique it is to have a community on the Lake Sammamish ecosystem, and this year chose to honor the complexity by focusing on Kokanee salmon. Da’ produced an online and interactive poetry map that encourages participants to engage with and explore the Lake Sammamish ecosystem. This fall, a poetry walk will be installed at Idylwood Park and culminate with a celebratory evening event featuring projections and poems co-created by Da’ and Redmond’s youth about Kokanee salmon.
“As our poet laureate, Laura has brought some of our City’s daily operations and priorities to life through poetry,” said Redmond Mayor Angela Birney. “Her innovative engagement opportunities about preservation and conservation of our streams, trees, and wildlife encourage all community members to reflect on our ecosystem, such as during a walk on a trail, a visit to a park, or at Redmond Lights. On behalf of the City of Redmond, I’d like to congratulate Laura on this prestigious recognition!”
During her laureateship, she has collaborated with and engaged the City’s Streams and Habitat Team. This unique collaboration informed locations for her poetry maps and prompts for poetry workshops. Having the opportunity to connect with the city staff directly responsible for environmental stewardship has been impactful and meaningful to the work Da’ has done in Redmond.
“I feel honored by the recognition from the Academy of American Poets and think it’s especially important since Kokanee salmon is at the heart of the project being recognized,” said Da’. “This indigenous species is central to the history of this space and has a deep connection to Redmond. It is both a precarious and precious part of the ecosystem and needs to be protected.”
Da’ is Eastern Shawnee, a poet, and a teacher. A lifetime resident of the Pacific Northwest, Da’ studied creative writing at the University of Washington and the Institute of American Indian Arts. Her first book, Tributaries, was published by the University of Arizona Press and won a 2016 American Book Award. Her newest book, Instruments of the True Measure, is the winner of the Washington State Book Award. Da’ has held residencies at the Richard Hugo House, Tin House, and Jack Straw. Da’ lives near Seattle with her husband and son.
Da’ will conclude her time as Redmond poet laureate at the end of this year and was also recently named the Poet Planner for the 2023-2025 4Culture poetry program. Applications for Redmond’s 2024-2025 poet laureate position are now available. Interested community members are encouraged to apply by Sept. 8.
Learn more about Da’s projects as Redmond’s poet laureate on the City’s website.
Jill E. Smith, Communications Manager