Check It Out!

Episode hosted by: Ken Harvey, Cindy Tingley

A podcast from Sno-Isle Libraries for lifelong learners with inquiring minds.

Episode 26: How poetry chose an immigrant, Claudia Castro Luna

Claudia Castro Luna was a teenager when she came to the U.S. with her family fleeing war in El Salvador.

In just two years, her growing English language skills earned Castro Luna the top English student award as she graduated from high school.

Claudia Castro Luna
Photo by Timothy Aguero

Now decades later, Castro Luna was named this past February as Washington State Poet Laureate and in April received an Academy of American Poets Laureate fellowship!

“It’s a huge honor to be granted this chance to serve in this capacity at a statewide level,” Castro Luna tells Check It Out! podcast co-hosts Ken Harvey and Cindy Tingley. “I thought long and hard about applying … I decided this historic juncture we’re in, it made sense for me to apply because if selected; I’d be the first immigrant selected.

“(This is) an opportunity to lead by example to both inspire other immigrants … and also as a way of dismantling stereotypes of what immigrants do or can do.”

Castro Luna says she came to poetry relatively late, after her children were born, and started by taking community college poetry classes. “For me, it was always, poetry,” she says. “I say (poetry) chose me.”

Castro Luna has written two books, “Killing Marias” and “This City.”

Castro Luna also served as Seattle’s Civic Poet and started a drop-in poetry writing program called, “The Poet Is In,” taking place in Seattle’s public libraries. “Libraries are these wonderful civic spaces,” she says. “Libraries are hubs of life.”

Castro Luna will serve a two-year term as poet laureate. She succeeds Tod Marshall. Prior to Marshall, Elizabeth Austen (2014-16), Kathleen Flenniken (2012-14), and Sam Green (2007-9) were in the position.

The Washington State Poet Laureate program is jointly sponsored by Humanities Washington and the Washington State Arts Commission (ArtsWA).


Claudia Castro Luna’s website

Claudia Castro Luna work at Sno-Isle Libraries

Media reports on Academy of American Poets fellowship

KCTS documentary

Episode length: 48:01

Episode Hosts

Ken Harvey Ken Harvey is Communications Director for Sno-Isle Libraries. Ken brings broad professional experience from his service with Community Transit, Sound Transit, Reno, Nev., and several positions in radio and TV.

Cindy Tingley Cindy Tingley is an instructional developer with Sno-Isle Libraries. Through experience as a radio DJ, a police officer in Key West, Fla., certified technology instructor and Usui Reiki trainer, the common thread is Cindy loves teaching new skills.

Episode Sponsors

Sno-Isle Libraries Foundation The Sno-Isle Libraries Foundation proudly supports the innovative work of Sno-Isle Libraries through private donations.