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Since the city of Spokane’s poet laureate position was created in 2013, four poet laureates have filled the role: Thom Caraway, Laura Read, and Mark Anderson, and Chris Cook. Each poet has increased the visibility of poetry in our city, taught countless free classes and workshops, created low-barrier ways for community members to engage with poetry, and celebrated the uniqueness of Spokane through the spoken and written word.

The Poet Laureate program celebrates Spokane’s vibrant literary community and aims to strengthen the future of literary arts in our city by engaging a broad range of communities. During their two-year term, each Poet Laureate serves as a cultural ambassador for both the written form and spoken word, and conducts public events to engage constituents city-wide.

As both a local resident and a distinguished poet, the Poet Laureate both represents and celebrates the rich literary history and the diversity of Eastern Washington. As a spokesperson for the area’s literary community, the Poet Laureate helps reinforce the role of literature in civic life and actively participates in ceremonial, educational and cultural activities in the community.

The Poet Laureate program is administered by Spokane Arts, in partnership with the city of Spokane.

Check out In the Neighborhood, the previous Poet Laureate’s community poetry program!

Meet Our Poet Laureates

Chris Cook (2019-2021)

Selected biography and publications

Graduated from the New England Conservatory of Music (Bachelor of Music, 1981); Member of the Spokane Symphony since 1981; Faculty, Gonzaga University, Dept. of Music since 1990; Member of the organizing committees that brought two Individual World Poetry Slams to Spokane; Represented Spokane at the 2014 Individual World Poetry Slam, winning the Limerick Slam; Represented Spokane at two National Poetry Slams (Boston, Oakland); Grand Slam Champion of Spokane Poetry Slam in 2014; Guest Host, Spokane Public radio’s Poetry Moment; Organizer/Host of 3 Minute Mic since 2013; Co-Host of Broken Mic; Featured at Pivot, Poetry at the Podium, The Round, Verbatim, Pictures of Poets, LitCrawl, KPBX, and KYRS.

Collections: Damn Good Cookie (Korrektiv Press, 2016) The View from the Broken Mic (Gray Dog Press, 2012) Anthologies: Marry a Monster-Lilac City Fairy Tales 2 (Scablands Books, 2016) Railtown Almanac 1: A Spokane Poetry Anthology (Sage Hill Press, 2014) Railtown Almanac 2: Spokane’s Prose (Sage Hill Press, 2016) Spokane Shorties (Gray Dog Press, 2014) Spokane Poetry Slam Uncensored (Gray Dog Press, 2017) One Minute Till Bedtime (Little, Brown and Company, 2016) Rolling in the Aisles (Meadowbrook Press, 2004) My Teacher’s in Detention (Meadowbrook Press, 2006) If Kids Ruled the School (Meadowbrook Press, 2004) My Teacher’s in Big Trouble (Scholastic Books, 2006) Various poems, essays, and stories for the Spokesman-Review

Thom Caraway (2013-2015)

Laura Read (2015-2017)

Mark Anderson (2017-2019)