It's shaping up to be a pretty good year for Anastacia-Reneé. Two of her three books due out this year have been published, and they've been well-received by local critics. Her book launch for (v.) turned out to be one of the most memorable and moving readings I've seen in a long while. And now the city has appointed her to its highest literary office: Civic Poet.
When I caught her this afternoon by phone, Anastacia-Reneé told me she's excited but also aware of the "extremely large shoes" she has to fill.
Claudia Castro Luna, the town's first ever Civic Poet, capped her two year tenure by constructing a "poetic grid" of the city, a "living map" of poems written by local poets about or in local places.
According to the Office of Arts & Culture, the Civic Poet receives a $10,000 stipend over the course of the two years, and is expected to "complete hands-on work with communities to engage constituents city-wide" and give ten performances over the course of that time.
"Claudia Castro Luna was amazing in terms of her community work, and I feel honored I was chosen after her," Anastacia-Reneé said. "I want to be as great of an ambassador to the community as Claudia was."
Anastacia-Reneé added that she plans "to work with indigenous peoples and people who don't often get a voice in the writing community and in poetry." This group also includes people who live in transitional housing and others who can't afford to can't get to literary centers such as the Hugo House.
She's looking forward to working with Seattle's second youth poet laureate, Lily Baumgart, and says she wants to extend poetry's reach to organizations that don't think about poetry very often. "Why not pair up with an engineering firm to discuss ways they can can use poetry to open up their employees more?" she said.
You can catch Anastacia-Reneé reading a new poem at the Mayor's Arts Awards ceremony on Thursday, August 31st. If you want to see her read before then, and I highly recommend you do, check her out at the Hugo House on August 18th.