Oregon’s Poet Laureate Elizabeth Woody reads at Tolovana Hall

Poet Laureate Elizabeth Woody

Poet Laureate of Oregon Elizabeth Woody will give a free reading in Cannon Beach, Friday, Feb. 17, 7:00 p.m. at Tolovana Hall.

Woody is the eighth poet to hold the post. Appointed in 2016 by governor Kate Brown, among the the Poet Laureate’s duties are to  “foster the art of poetry, encourage literacy and learning, address central issues relating to humanities and heritage, and to reflect on public life in Oregon.”

Woody’s work is deeply rooted in both personal experience and her American Indian heritage. She is an enrolled member of the Confederate Tribes of Warm Springs.

In a review of Woody’s ‘Luminaries of the Humble,’ writer Judy Elsey observed: “Woody’s poetry acts as a tool for rebuilding history, reconstituting dignity, and communicating culture.”

The title of that book, ‘Luminaries of the Humble,’ is particularly illuminating. Woody says often her poems are inspired by observing extraordinary people in their day to day lives.

“They could be my grandparents,” Woody says. “They could be my little sisters. They could be someone in the street. I don’t know who I will see next and have a poem come out of it.”

Besides reading, Woody will dive into her process, provide context and background on her poems, and also hold a question and answer session. As such, aspiring writers are especially encouraged to attend.

Woody got her start in academia. She studied at the Institute of American Indian Arts, Evergreen College and Portland State.

Over the course of her two year term she hopes to visit the more far flung pockets of the state, bypassing populations centers like Portland that she feels are well served by the arts.

In the early 2000’s, Woody was part of the group that revived the state’s Poet Laureate position, which had laid dormant for decades. She remembers some of the criteria the group set for the perspective poets.

“I didn’t want {Poet Laureates} to be namby pamby,” Woody says. “They have to have some kind of backbone. They have to have really strong community ties and have been in Oregon a long time.”

Woody very much inhabits those ideals. She is passionate, tied deeply to community, and views the position in terms of service.

“I think that’s my natural inclination,” Woody says . “Because I’m not going to make money out of it I have to get something out of it. Service is important. I was raised in a family that always had me thinking about other people.”

“It’s good for people to be gathered for at least a few moments,” she adds. “And the literary community has a lot of opportunities for that to happen. its a good place to be draw in folks.”

The reading is free. 7:00PM @ Tolovana Hall, 3779 Hemlock St., Cannon Beach. For more information visit tolovanaartscolony.org, email tolovanaartscolony@gmail.com or call 541-215-4445.





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