Every other year, writing center Hugo House chooses a new poet-in-residence who focuses on new work and offers free advice to other writers. Beginning this September, that’s Laura Da’, a local teacher, author of two poetry collections, and former fellow at Hugo House and the Native Arts and Cultures Foundation. Here is Da’ on her new role. —SM
I’ve benefited a lot from local programs designed to amplify voices or help writers in the beginning. Former writers-in-residence helped me with my first manuscript, for example.
As a writer, [the role] really helps me to be able to look outward for inspiration. It frees up my thinking so that I don’t get too circular.
I’m working on a project that looks at the issue of severalty, where tribal communities were severed and broken into allotments. It was a really disastrous policy.
I think the main thing Seattle’s poetry scene needs more of is overt welcoming—explicit invitation to join. There are so many incredible voices, but it’s really hard to open up the Seattle community.
I absolutely felt that way, and still do, frankly. I don’t have an MFA, so I came to poetry through a less predictable path. That sometimes made me feel like I didn’t even speak the language I was supposed to speak.
When it comes to honoring, listening to, amplifying, and including communities that are sometimes marginalized by Seattle’s literary scene, I think that heavy lifting is very much done by writers-in-residence.
My main plan is listening.