WA Secretary of State Blogs

Tacoma’s Poet Laureate visits the Washington Corrections Center for Women

From the desk of Ken McDouall, Library Associate, Washington Corrections Center for Women

The picture of an African American woman smiling.Washington Corrections Center for Women (WCCW) library branch was pleased to welcome Tacoma’s newest Poet Laureate last week. Kellie Richardson is a lifelong resident of Tacoma’s Hilltop neighborhood, and her poetry is informed by her intersecting identities as an activist, an African American woman, a mother, and a Christian. She has taught at Pacific Lutheran University and is often busy conducting workshops and giving presentations to local schools and community events.

Ms. Richardson formed immediate connections with the crowd of inmates gathered for an open mic event on the evening of May 26. She read a couple of her pieces, and encouraged those in attendance to come up and share their work. The evening featured some stellar performances from the inmates, including a striking presentation of a couple Nina Simone songs. When participation started to flag, Ms. Richardson energized the crowd with several rounds of “pop-up poetry,” engaging participants to create spontaneous poems based on words chosen by their peers.

Enthusiasm for poetry and spoken word is high at WCCW, and the library branch here makes every effort to keep it that way. Ms. Richardson looks forward to returning and encouraging other poets in the area to connect to this unique population of library patrons. ​


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