Poet Laureate

Poetry Maps

This project was designed by Sady Sparks during her term as Olympia’s Poet Laureate in 2020. After being handed a literary map of Wellington, New Zealand, she knew Olympia needed one, too. An unconventional route, Sady wanted to guide people through poems by something other than geographical coordinates. Therefore, people are guided by what they want to see in the family edition, where they want to go in the duo edition, and how they want to feel in the solo edition. This project was inspired and created by many different types of weather, various artists, countless poems, boring days, exciting days, different countries, and the concept of “joy.”

Olympia Poet Laureate Sady Sparks

Olympia's Poet Laureate

Sady Sparks completed her term as Olympia's second Poet Laureate at the conclusion of 2020. If you would like to make contact with Sady, please contact Arts Program Manager Stephanie Johnson

The mission of the Poet Laureate is to promote poetry as an art form, expand access to the literary arts, connect the community to poetry, and promote poetry as a community voice that contributes to a sense of place.

I am passionate about creating vibrant and enthusiastic spaces where people see, create, share and play with poetry.” - Sady Sparks

Original Poetry


Dusty blueberries in January have a sour burn, have traveled around 6,445.25 miles, and make you slightly nostalgic.

You remember pulling down clumps into your hand like grapes last September as Rachel told you about their silent brother.

You remember walking to your neighbor's two bushes most mornings to collect toppings for your oatmeal.

You remember the mothers that fill small glass containers for toddlers who like to suck on the white insides.

You remember they had softer skin in the wild, had more juice, and the sweetness was forever.

You consider the truck journeying up from Chile, skin hardening through time zones, orchard home blurred to memory.

You wonder if they are shipped as green and red babies, and how exactly they ripen. Is there sunshine in the truck?

How many Chileans are snacking on blueberries tonight?

You bet they are sweeter, you bet the laughter falls into hands like clumps.

Poetry painted on sidewalk

Here we are magic

When Olympia Poet Laureate Sady Sparks was invited to paint poems on Olympia’s waterfront, she was excited to add more beauty to the city. She invited Seattle-based poet Zyna Bakari to contribute her poetry.

Zyna is a Black American daughter of a Filipino mother and Zanzibari father. She is invested in Black joy. Their collaboration is rooted in poetry as a vehicle for building worlds of magic, sweetness, and strength.

Poems can be mostly found on West and East Bay Drive sidewalks, with rain-activated poems at Percival Landing. The poems were applied with vinyl stencils and paint or Rainworks (which creates a water barrier on the pavement so words magically appear when wet).

Local Poetry Groups

Past Poets Laureate

2017/2018 Poet Laureate Amy Solomon-Minarchi

2017/18 Amy Solomon Minarchi

During her tenure, Olympia's first Poet Laureate Amy Solomon-Minarchi engaged the public and the poetry community through such projects as:

  • The Writing in the Rain Project and poetry readings and performances during Arts Walk
  • Poetry Rides Bus and Bus Stop Poetry, in association with InterCity Transit
  • Isthmus Park Poetry stamped in the concrete of one of our newest parks
  • Community Poetry Anthology Project: I Hear Olympia Singing

In addition, Ms. Solomon-Minarchi conducted poetry workshops with incarcerated youth, during Arts Walk, in schools, and in partnership with Olympia Timberland Library. She has recited poetry at City Council meetings, and at poetry slams and events throughout Olympia.

Questions?

For information about the Poet Laureate program, contact Stephanie Johnson at 360.709.2678 or sjohnso1@ci.olympia.wa.us

Poet Laureate Application