Poet Laureate

Olympia Poet Laureate Sady Sparks

2021-2023 Poet Laureate, Ashly McBunch

Ashly McBunch is originally from the Midwest and moved to Olympia in 2017 when they were stationed at Joint Base Lewis McChord. An Army retired veteran, Ashly spent many years writing for a creative outlet. They enjoy the aspects of creative collaboration, performance and use of intuitive guidance to bring out artistic expression that leads towards healing, growth, introspection and fun. They believe art is a tree with many creative branches that connects us all through the same nurturing soil. They are excited about exploring these inclusive artful branches with poetry and raising the poetic voices of Olympia. 

During their term, Ashly intends to bring forth the value of intuition, mindfulness and creative collaboration while promoting poetry as an art form through active participation within citywide events and invigorating the arts by centering poetry and art collaborations that supports this term’s themes of healing and inclusion.

Ashly plans to showcase this through a hybrid environment of in-person and on-line activities. Additionally, Ashly plans to work with school aged children, providing workshops to assist them in examining their community focused poetic voice.

"I feel the healing power of words are unmistakable. We, as individuals, have a human sense of duty within our professional and personal circles to use this power to sculpt bridges. Bridges that connect one Olympian citizen to the next, to see each other as we see ourselves. Within the past year lives have shifted, and the obstacles we have faced have provided opportunities to come together to reengage and commit to improving community disparities within Olympia.” - Ashly McBunch

I walk
I walk – through sunrises kissed by
Clusters of rhododendrons
Nourished by Indigenous soil, connecting
Our journeys together with each step. I

Walk - as love’s vessel. I carry vital
Generational knowledge, giving
Acceptance. Seeing beauty within fractals
Of healing breaths walk. Their artful vessels
An audience of mountains. We

Walk – purpose driven sculptors, laying
Paths, broad footing offering bold landscapes,
Embracing the words which guide our ambitious
Hearts’ melodic tune, in waters
Built for the frequency of rising voices.
We Walk.

By Ashly McBunch

*The use of the word “walk” in this poem is used to symbolize the movement towards progress.

About the Poet Laureate program

Every two years the City of Olympia selects a Poet Laureate to engage our entire community in the literary arts. Olympia’s take on the position of Poet Laureate is less an honorary title and more about service over status. 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.

Past Poets Laureate

Former Poet laureate Sady Sparks

During her tenure as Olympia Poet Laureate, Sady Sparks engaged the public and the poetry community through such projects as:

  • Instant Poetry at Arts Walk
  • Here We Are Magic poetry installation with Zyna Bakari
  • Poetry Maps: Family Edition-What do you want to see?, Duo Edition-Where do you want to go?, and Solo Edition-How do you want to feel?

In addition, Sady conducted poetry workshops in downtown businesses and at the Capital Mall, in association with the Olympia Poetry Network, and on Zoom. She has recited poetry at City Council meetings, and at poetry events throughout the region, and at Parks facility dedications.

2017/2018 Poet Laureate 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.


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