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2021-2023 Poet Laureate

Lydia K. Valentine Selected as Tacoma's 2021-2023 Poet Laureate


March 22, 2021



Tammi Bryant, Media and Communications, tbryant@tacomavenues.org, (425) 343-2462

Maria Lee, Media and Communications, maria.lee@cityoftacoma.org, (253) 591-2054

Lydia K. Valentine Selected as Tacoma's 2021-2023 Poet Laureate


The Tacoma Arts Commission has announced the selection of Lydia K. Valentine as Tacoma's 2021-2023 Poet Laureate. Over the next two years, Valentine will participate in and host public poetry readings, workshops and other community events to advance the literary arts in Tacoma.


“Healing the rifts and alienation exacerbated by the past four years will be a daunting task that needs all of us to do our part if America is ever going to be the country that it is purported to be,” said Valentine. “To that end, I’d like to use the role of Poet Laureate to foster the creation of stronger and deeper connections within our community, especially by giving voice to those who are at the margins. I would also like to find a way to support and bring recognition to small businesses in our city who have been hit hard by COVID-19 necessitated closures.”

As a wrap-up to National Poetry Month, 2019-2021 Tacoma Poet Laureate Abby E. Murray and the Tacoma Arts Commission will host Pass the Torch, a virtual poetry event at which Valentine will officially be awarded the title. The free, public event will be held Thursday, April 22, from 6:00 – 7:15 pm on TV Tacoma, livestreamed on the City’s Facebook page, and on Zoom. Pass the Torch will feature past poets laureate Kellie Richardson (2017 - 2019), Thy Nguyễn (2015 - 2017), Lucas Smiraldo (2013 - 2015), Josie Emmons Turner (2011 - 2013), Tammy Robacker (2010 -
2011), Antonio Edwards, Jr. (2009 - 2010), and William Kupinse (2008 - 2009).

About Lydia K. Valentine

Lydia K. Valentine is a playwright and poet, director and dramaturg, editor and educator. Her proudest accomplishment, though, is being a mom to two creative, intelligent, and caring individuals and activists. In her own writing and the projects to which she contributes through Lyderary Ink, Lydia seeks to amplify the voices of those who are often stifled, ignored, and marginalized in what has been the accepted narrative of the United States.

Lydia’s first poetry collection, Brief Black Candles, was published in November 2020 by Not a Pipe Publishing. Poems from the collection were recently showcased in the Eugene Contemporary Art exhibit, A Critical Conversation: Art, Race, Privilege, and Place. Her writing has also appeared in online and print publications such as Angels Flight • literary west, The Pitkin Review, Shout! An Anthology of Resistance Poetry and Short Fiction, and HowlRound. She has been the recipient of various awards and recognitions. She was the 2017 poetry fellow serving Nuestras Pequeñas Rosas in San Pedro Sula, Honduras; recipient of the 2017 Goddard College Engaged Artist Award; and recipient of the 2021 Unsettling Dramaturgy Award.

Lydia is the resident dramaturg for empathos company and Toy Boat Theatre, and she maintains ongoing partnerships with The Mahogany Project, Pork Filled Productions, and We Out Here.


She has been invited by various organizations including the African-American Writers’ Alliance, Central Washington University, Creative Colloquy, the Hiatt Center for Civic Engagement and Leadership, Lighthouse Writers’ Conference & Retreat, and Write253 to speak and run workshops on topics such as equity and classroom management, social justice in the classroom, intersectionality and identity, poetry, and playwriting.

Lydia is a faculty member of Northwest Indian College and Seattle Girls’ School. She is also a highly sought after sensitivity/authenticity reader, developmental editor, and copyeditor and has worked on publications such as the social justice and literary arts magazine Speak, books such as Rough House by Tina Ontiversos, and various projects for companies such as Agate Publishing, Forest Avenue Press, and McGraw Hill.

About the Tacoma Poet Laureate Program

Information regarding the Tacoma Poet Laureate program, which was founded in 2008 by Urban Grace Church and transitioned to the City of Tacoma’s Office Arts & Cultural Vitality in 2011, is available at cityoftacoma.org/poet.