Call for Poet Laureate

Could you be Olympia's next Poet Laureate?

Poetry is a powerful tool for reflection and creativity. Every two years the City of Olympia selects a Poet Laureate to engage our entire community in the literary arts. Duties include: promoting poetry as an art form, expanding access to the literary arts, and encouraging poetry as a community voice that contributes to a sense of place.

Are you passionate about poetry? We want to hear from you!

Important details

  • Application deadline is 11:59 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 21, 2020
  • 2 year appointment.
  • $1500 stipend per year.
  • Applicant must be an Olympia resident, over 18 years of age, and a practicing poet.
  • The appointed Poet Laureate will have the flexibility to shape a scope of work that reflects their interests, skills and abilities.

View complete details below.

Submission calendar

  • July 22, 2020: Application open
  • Aug. 16 , 2020, 2 p.m.: Pre-submission Workshop - ZOOM The workshop will address questions about the application and selection process.
  • Sept. 21, 2020, 11:59 p.m.: DEADLINE for Receipt of Submissions
  • Sept. 28, 2020, 1-3 p.m.: Jury -  ZOOM
  • Oct. 5, 2020, 1-3 p.m.: Interview -  ZOOM
  • Oct. 8, 2020. 6 p.m.: Arts Commission reviews jury recommendation.
  • Oct. 20, 2020, 5:30 p.m.: Arts Commission recommendation goes to Council for approval


Applicants must:

  • Be an Olympia resident (city limits or Urban Growth Area)
  • 18 years or older
  • Be a practicing poet, dedicated to producing poetry (in any form, genre or style) on a regular basis
  • Speak, read, and write English. Recognizing the diverse languages represented in the community bilingual and multilingual poets are encouraged to apply.


  • The Poet Laureate appointment is a two year term, from January 1, 2021 - December 31, 2022.


  • The Poet Laureate will be paid a $1,500 honoraria per year ($3,000 total).
  • The Poet Laureate must purchase a City of Olympia Business license and insurance to City specifications.
  • There is also up to $750 per year available for agreed-upon materials and supplies.

Scope of work

  • Each selected Poet Laureate will enter into an agreement with the City, and work with City Staff to determine a final scope of work.
  • The selected Poet Laureate will offer a minimum of 2 instructional workshops per year, and participate in Arts Walk spring or fall of each year. In addition, each Poet Laureate will work with the City’s Arts Program Staff to plan 6 additional hours of contact time with the public per year, that actively contributes to and advances Olympia’s literary community.
  • On average, the Olympia Poet Laureate has spent 40 hours a quarter (6 months) doing the work of the position, including projects and administration.
  • If a poetry reading at an official City occasion is one item on the agreed scope of work, the City reserves the right to review the proposed poem(s) beforehand (either their own or the work of another poet(s)), and accept or decline the reading. If the reading is declined, the Poet Laureate will replace the event in their schedule.
  • Poets agree to sign a contract with the City regarding their scope of work. Poets also agree to responsibly handle administrative duties in association with the program.
  • Poets agree that the City of Olympia may photograph them during their Poet Laureate workshops and projects.

Submission guidelines

To be considered, applicants must meet all eligibility criteria and submit a packet including all requested materials. Incomplete applications and extra material will not be considered. Applicants must provide:

  • Resume
  • 5 written poetry work samples (published or self-published)
  • 1 video recording sample of a poetry reading or performance of one of the written work samples.
  • A 1,000 word proposal of how they would engage with the public as the City’s Poet Laureate, including audience, community engagement strategy, and samples of workshops or projects that would support the focus or theme of their appointment.

Selection criteria

Artists should bear in mind that the audiences will be broad-based and of all ages, and in representing the City’s inclusive, non-partisan stance, must use discretion when acting in the capacity of the City’s Poet Laureate.

  • Aesthetic Quality: Do the written or recorded work samples exhibit strong aesthetic merit? Are the works consistently strong? Does the applicant produce poetry on a regular basis?
  • Community Involvement: Does the applicant demonstrate a history of involvement and activity within the literary arts?
  • Potential for Engagement: Does the proposal support the poet’s ability to engage Olympia’s citizens in meaningful ways to further the literary arts in our community?


  • Kellie Braseth, Director of Strategic Communications, City of Olympia
  • Frederick Dobler, Vice-Chair, Olympia Arts Commission
  • Jim Burlingame, Olympia Arts Commission
  • Carolyn Gilman, Poetry Out Loud Coordinator, Olympia High School
  • Sady Sparks, Olympia Poet Laureate 2019-2020


Contact Stephanie Johnson at 360.709.2678 or