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In partnership, the City of Seattle Office of Arts & Culture (ARTS) and the Seattle Public Library (SPL) support an experienced poet with a two-year City residency as literary ambassador. In addition to annual City events, the Civic Poet will foster community dialogue and engagement between the City, the public, and other artists, while celebrating the literary arts.


The Seattle Civic Poet program, launched in 2015, is inspired by the previous Poet Populist program instituted in 1999 by Seattle City Council member Nick Licata. The goal of the Poet Populist program was to support the practice of literary arts, democracy, and promote local literary arts organizations to a general audience citywide. The Poet Populist program was discontinued in 2008. The Civic Poet program continues the legacy of the Poet Populist program by fostering community dialogue and engagement between the public and artists, while celebrating the literary arts.

Application Deadline

The deadline for applications is 5 p.m. (Pacific Time), Wednesday, July 13, 2022. Please allow ample time to complete your application; applications submitted after the 5 p.m. PT, Wednesday, July 13, 2022 deadline will not be accepted.


This call is open to Seattle-based poets who have an established body of work including published works, reading/spoken word plus project planning experience, and applied racial equity practice. Applicants must:

  • be Seattle-based (residence in the city of Seattle),
  • be eligible to work in the U.S.,
  • have demonstrated interest/experience in promoting equity and inclusion through the arts, and
  • show strong program planning and implementation with some partnerships

Scope of Work

The Civic Poet will generate a work plan within budget for each year that includes public readings at up to two municipal events annually and community engagement opportunities that could include classes/workshops, lectures, curatorial services, solo or group readings to engage diverse communities of all ages. The commission can include multiple small and medium opportunities plus one large scale event during this period.

Applicants do NOT need to submit a work plan for the initial application. If you are selected as a finalist, you will be compensated for a draft work plan to be presented to the panel during a finalist's interview. 


The compensation for the two-year Civic Poet commission is $15,000. Funding covers a two-year period. It compensates time for writing, administration, artist fees, performances, event costs, materials, travel, fees, taxes, and other project-related costs.

Optional Workshop

Wednesday, June 15 

2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Seattle Public Library – Columbia City Branch

4721 Rainier Ave. S.

Seattle, Washington 98118


Learn what makes a strong application. The session will cover specifics on eligibility and how to apply. All applicants are encouraged to attend. Please RSVP for the workshop by emailing Irene Gómez, Civic Poet Program Manager, at irene.gomez@seattle.gov.

EventBrite: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/civic-poet-2023-24-information-session-tickets-337524303277 

Information Session presented program overview of guidelines, eligibility, award, process, timeline and a walk-through of online application. It was presented by staff members Irene Gomez and Marshonne Walker and included a post session Question/Answer.

Civic Poet web page: https://www.seattle.gov/arts/programs/civic-poet

Link to video here: https://youtu.be/AdT5agIYLvg

Application Requirements

Applications must include the following:

  1. Statement of interest and commitment to this commission, that includes your relationship to Seattle and capacity to apply racial equity practices / skills to the work (2,000 characters maximum, including spaces).
  2. Description of how new work, projects, and events will reflect new and different voices/perspectives through poetry (2,000 characters maximum, including spaces).
  3. Description of capacity to plan, implement, and partner on projects/events (2,000 characters maximum, including spaces).
  4. Résumé (three pages maximum)
  5. One letter of recommendation that endorses your literary gifts, ability to plan/implement a project, and your racial equity practice. Please note:  past Civic Poets are not able to submit a recommendation for any applicant.
  6. Two literary work samples:  two poems, no longer than five pages each  
  7. Materials showing proof of establishment within the field:
  •      publication cover, article or promotional piece
  •      audio/video of significant performance (up to 2.5 minutes)

Selection Criteria

The peer review panel will assess applications based on the following criteria:

  • Advanced skill as a generative and committed poet with strong ties to Seattle,
  • Demonstrated ability to engage audiences across sectors, ages, and cultures,
  • Capacity to apply racial equity practices/skills to work, and
  • Ability to plan and execute projects

We're Here to Help

Questions about this opportunity? Please contact Irene Gómez, Civic Poet Program Manager, at irene.gomez@seattle.gov or 206.684.7310, with any questions about this opportunity.

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