Spokane's Poet Laureate announced | Arts & Culture
From the Spokane Arts Fund:
Dr. Thom Caraway has been named Spokane’s first Poet Laureate. An award-winning poet and long-time resident of Spokane, Caraway will enthusiastically serve both communities in this important new role. He will join the Arts Commission in promoting and supporting Spokane’s vibrant literary community and expressing the spirit of the city with the world outside of Eastern Washington.
Dr. Caraway earned his PhD in English from the University of North Dakota, and an MFA in Creative Writing and BA in English, both from Eastern Washington University. He is a senior lecturer in Whitworth University’s English department. He calls Spokane’s West Central neighborhood home.
“The purpose of the Poet Laureate will be to articulate what it’s like to be a part of Spokane, to reflect our people and the essence of life in the greater Eastern Washington region,” said City Council President Ben Stuckart. “Between Caraway’s work at Whitworth and his home in West Central, he sees stark differences in our city daily, and his writing reflects that. He eloquently brings together the contrasting sides of Spokane – the poverty, harshness and grittiness with the affluence, peacefulness and natural beauty.”
Caraway has been recognized for excellence in both writing and teaching. The author of A Visitor’s Guide to North Dakota: Poems, Caraway has also been published in multiple journals. Twice he has won the Thomas McGrath Prize for Poetry from the Academy of American Poets.
Most recently, he was named Whitworth Contingent Faculty of the Year in spring 2012. He has been a featured reader at many of Spokane’s esteemed reading series’, including Get Lit! He also serves as editor-in-chief for the literary journal, Rock & Sling, and is publisher and founder of Sage Hill Press.
“Thom was selected on his reputation as a writer and citizen,” said Karen Mobley, Program Manager for Spokane Arts Fund. “The committee loved his poems and was very excited that his work is both good writing and represents the spirit of the West Central neighborhood which has a strong ‘can-do’ attitude.”
As a spokesperson for the area’s literary community, Caraway will help reinforce the role of literature in civic life and will actively participate in ceremonial, educational and cultural activities in the community at various times throughout his two-year term of service. That term will begin in October and he’ll receive a $2,000 stipend.
The Poet Laureate selection panel included Children’s Poet Laureate Kenn Nesbitt, Director of Spokane Public Libraries Andrew Chanse, Arts Commissioners Adam Boyd, Mariesa Stokes and Allen Duffy, Lucia Huntington, immediate past chair of Humanities Washington, and City Council President Ben Stuckart. Members of the Arts Commission and the Arts Fund Board coordinated the search and selection.