Poetry in Place: Bryna Antonia Cortes at Friends of Little Saigon

For this poetry display at Friends of Little Saigon, my designer Jayme Yen chose a typeface created by a Vietnamese font designer which pairs visually well with the Vietnamese language. Bryna Antonia Cortes sent a wonderful poem about the neighborhood of Little Saigon that we asked if we could translate into Vietnamese. Her grandfather did the translation and it is the only poem in the public poetry campaign that appears in two languages.

Poetry in Place: Bryan Wilson at BFI and SMT

Bryan Wilson’s poem explores the weather systems unique to the Pacific Northwest and overflows with images of water, rain, and atmospheric rivers. My designer Jayme Yen and I discussed how we might display this piece in two spaces that had more infrastructure, staffing, and support to create something more ambitious. Jayme created paper cutouts on architectural plotter paper with phrases from Bryan’s poem which were then suspended by the ceiling and light fixtures. The full installation is downtown at Seattle’s Municipal Tower Gallery on Fifth Avenue, and there’s a second mini installation of the poem at Bureau of Fearless Ideas in Greenwood, North Seattle, where Bryan works as a program manager and educator.

Poetry in Place: Cindy Luong at SPL

Emerging poet Cindy Luong sent me a poem about her memories of Seattle Public Library and the impact that the South Park library had on her as a young person. My designer Jayme Yen created a simple design using an existing standing banner in the SPL space that evokes the verticality of a book mark which we then installed in the youth section of the library downtown. We also made a display for the South Park branch in their windows and gave the library posters and postcards of the poem for distribution.

Poetry in Place: Joe Nasta at Slide Gallery

I curated Joe Nasta’s poem on urban bees into a window display at Slide Gallery in Belltown for my public poetry campaign as Seattle Civic Poet for National Poetry Month. Joe’s poem is paired with an image by Jovelle Tamayo of poet and urban beekeeper Bob Redmond, who passed away in September 2023. Bob spent a lot of time in Belltown in his days as a young poet, as a writer in residence at the Belltown Cottages for Hugo House. Towards the end of an amazing career as an arts leader who held roles with Town Hall Seattle, Bumbershoot, and Real Change, he took up urban beekeeping. I’d wanted to include some of Bob’s work in this campaign but things didn’t work out. I was very happy to create an homage and memorial to him through this display which was made with Joe’s blessing, and that of Bob’s widow. Designed by Jayme Yen and funded by the Academy of American Poets and the Windrose Fund.

Civic Poet work

I’m launching a public poetry campaign on April 1 for The City of Seattle’s ARTS office in my role as Civic Poet. The campaign will feature the work of poets Bryan Wilson, Kathya Alexander, Bryna Antonia Cortes, Cindy Luong, and Joe Nasta and involve taking over 7 sites around the city, including:

  • Wa Na Wari
  • Slide Gallery
  • Seattle Public Library (downtown and Southpark)
  • Friends of Little Saigon
  • Bureau of Fearless Ideas
  • Seattle Municipal Tower Gallery

This public poetry program is made possible by the Academy of American Poets with funds from the Mellon Foundation. This project was also supported by The Windrose Fund.