The Tacoma Arts Commission has announced the selection of Lucas Smiraldo as Tacoma's 2013-2015 poet laureate.
During the next two years, Smiraldo will participate in and host public poetry readings, workshops and other community events. He will also participate in Art at Work: Tacoma Arts Month each November, and will help produce the 2015 Tacoma Poet Laureate Ceremony to announce the next poet laureate.
“My Tacoma experience has introduced me to a marvelous, rich community of grassroots, literary, academic, bilingual, hip hop, socially engaged, irreverent and compelling poets and word artisans who often change a room, or a mind, or a point of view with their work,” said Smiraldo. “I want to offer people of wildly divergent backgrounds a chance to savor poetry, write it, exchange it, and share it in community. The past four poet laureates have set an incredibly durable foundation for this honor, and I am deeply grateful to them for their gifts and for establishing such a passionate legacy of service.”
In conjunction with National Poetry Month, the Tacoma Arts Commission and Tacoma's current poet laureate, Josie Emmons Turner, will host a poetry reading event at which Smiraldo will officially be awarded the title. The free, public event will be held Tuesday, April 23, from 6 – 7:30 p. m. at the Tacoma Public Library’s main branch (1102 Tacoma Ave. S in downtown Tacoma). Featured poets will include Smiraldo, Emmons Turner, 2010-2011 Tacoma Poet Laureate Tammy Robacker and 2008-2009 Tacoma Poet Laureate William Kupinse.
Smiraldo is a Pacific Northwest writer, performing poet and twelve-time produced playwright. His performance credits include opening poet at Def Poetry Jam’s College Tour, featured poet at the National Black Pilot’s Conference, commissioned performances at the Tacoma Art Museum and the Museum of Glass, and featured poet during Seattle’s Hip Hop Awards. He has recently joined forces with master griot and kora player, Foday Musa Suso, to present a unique performance of spoken word, song, and social and political narrative.
Smiraldo received the Tacoma Arts Commission’s Arts Projects funding in 2010 and Tacoma Artists Initiative Program funding in 2008 to create two spoken word projects combining film and music. In 2010, he created an original touring work in affiliation with collaborating writers, entitled “Eleven Days in the Life of Dr. King,” which explored Dr. King’s life through 12 original spoken works put to stage with music and choreography. Smiraldo recently completed a new touring play with co-writer April Nyquist in affiliation with the Broadway Center titled “The Bridges: A Civil Rights Journey.”
The Tacoma Poet Laureate program was founded in 2008 by Urban Grace Church and transitioned to the City of Tacoma’s Arts Program in 2011.