The Tacoma Arts Commission is pleased to announce the selection of Cathy Nguyen as Tacoma’s 2015-2017 Poet Laureate.
Over the next two years, Nguyen will participate in and host public poetry readings, workshops and other community events. She will also participate in Tacoma Arts Month each October, and help produce the 2017 Tacoma Poet Laureate Ceremony to announce the next Poet Laureate.
“The Poet Laureate is an artist and activist who works both to amplify the literary voices of underrepresented community members and to enhance the shared written and oral narratives of the Tacoma community,” said Nguyen. “It’s necessary to me that social justice and equity are at the center of all that I do and create which, in the community context, means raising social consciousness, building civic advocacy, and engaging community members in shared learning and teaching through poetry and other forms of creative expression.”
As a wrap-up of National Poetry Month, the Tacoma Arts Commission and Tacoma’s current Poet Laureate, Lucas Smiraldo, will host a poetry and music event at which Nguyen will officially be awarded the title. The free, public event will be held Friday, May 1, from 6 – 8:30 p. m. at B Sharp Coffee House (706 Court C in downtown Tacoma). Featured poets will include Nguyen, Smiraldo, 2011-2013 Tacoma Poet Laureate Josie Emmons Turner, 2010-2011 Tacoma Poet Laureate Tammy Robacker, 2009-2010 Tacoma Poet Laureate Antonio Edwards, Jr., and 2008-2009 Tacoma Poet Laureate William Kupinse. These poets and others will be joined by musicians Terry O’Hara and Bronson Bragg, vocalist Kathryn Burke, and there will be music compositions by Gregory Youtz.
Cathy Nguyen is an “artivist” who seeks to promote social equity and youth leadership through creative expression and community organization. A resident of Tacoma since 2010, Nguyen has worked to infuse the arts in a variety of human service and grassroots contexts.
In 2012, Nguyen created and coordinated “The RIOT”, a first-ever teen poetry/hip-hop program at STAR Center. In the years that followed, Nguyen worked to draw on and capture the voices of queer youth and young adults through a variety of arts, violence prevention, and leadership development programming at Oasis Youth Center. Currently, Nguyen integrates creative expression with youth and community development as a teen support group facilitator at BRIDGES, a center for grieving youth and their families, and as an organizer of Tacoma Stands Up, a grassroots initiative calling for an end to police brutality and social injustice through peaceful organization, where she has led Tacoma-wide rallies and arts events focused on community-building and social justice advocacy.