About the Project
Washington Poetic Routes is a digital poetry-mapping project that explores Washington’s rich geographical terrain, both in terms of landscape and in terms of the human relationships that unfold across the State.
Washington State is blessed with stunning natural wonders from bucolic islands, towering volcanoes, temperate rain forests, snowy passes, expansive grasslands, roaring rivers and many other exceptional terrains. Yet, the geographical, geological and ecological diversity that make Washington a stunning place also make it challenging for its citizens to travel across its territory. For example, treacherous mountain passes make East/West winter travel a challenge, while traveling to the islands in the Salish Sea presents another set of challenges.
Geography is inescapable. We are bound to the places we inhabit, the terrain we call home. My hope is that through writing and reading poems that tell of the places we call home written by Washingtonians of all ages and locations, we can learn a little bit more about our cities, towns, mountains, rivers, know a little more about our birds and fish, learn about the stories that define a particular place, read from a fifth grader what it is like to live in a place where eventide means ladders left leaning on apple tree orchards awaiting tomorrow’s harvest.
I think of the poems on this map as heartbeats. Red beats full of candor and intimacy the way only a poem can transmit. My hope is that when reading them one after the other the dots shape in the reader’s mind a new set of travel routes, a complement and an alternative to the to the road routes drawn in on the map. The green routes take us physically from Point A to Point B. Depending on how the reader clicks on them, the dots will create a new constellation of routes: emotional, spiritual routes that tap into memory, into history, into joy, into our desires and frustrations, into land, trees, fish and bird song.
My hope is that together, through our own poems of place we will have a new, different way of engaging with each other as citizens. Together we create a living map of what is like to live in this wonderful place we share called Washington State.
I look forward to reading all of your submissions.
Claudia Castro Luna, WA Poet Laureate (2018-2020)
Washington Poetic Routes acknowledges that this project is placed over the ancestral territories of multiple Indigenous peoples who lived and prospered on land that is now Washington State. Indigenous peoples and tribes continue to thrive all over Washington State.
I offer my deepest gratitude to the following organizations and individuals:
To Washington State’s Art Collection comprised of 4,700 public artworks located across the state at K-12 public schools, colleges, universities and state agencies. Managed by ArtsWA.
To Stephen F. Austin, Historian from the Cultural Resources Program at the Washington State Department of Transportation for generously sharing historical information of the State’s transportation system.
To the residents of Washington State who wrote poems with me in schools, libraries, community centers, bookstores and parks, and to all those who support, promote the reading, writing and appreciation of poetry all across this beautiful State.