Spokane’s First Poet Laureate, Dr. Thom Caraway


Congratulations to Dr. Thom Caraway, who was been named Spokane’s first Poet Laureate! Here are some of Thom’s thoughts on this honor and poetry. 

“It’s a tremendous honor to be the first laureate ever appointed for Spokane. Spokane is home to a number of very talented poets, and I look forward to working with all of them to promote the arts in the city and beyond.”

“I think one of my goals as Spokane’s poet laureate will be to confront the idea that poetry isn’t something that everybody can enjoy. The perception is that poetry is an elitist art form, and most people don’t feel like they can ‘get’ poetry. But it’s one of the oldest art forms we have. Its power is primal, and there is something there for everyone, I think. Kids learn very early on that language is fun, and they play with it constantly. But as people get older they lose that sense of wonder that language can provide, and poetry is primarily concerned with that wonder. I’d like to reconnect people to that.”

“The chief pleasure for me in writing a poem is a balance of frustration and joy. Frustration that I so often fail at language, at conveying something (an image, an experience) with precision and the gap between what I want to do and what I am able to do. But there is also joy in getting a line or an image or metaphor closer to rightness, closer to precision. Working in language is a constant tension, but one I enjoy confronting.”

“But poetry never exists in a vacuum. Words on a page are fine, but until those words find an audience, either a reader or listener, they can’t do anything. My favorite aspect of writing poetry then, is when people tell me they liked something, that they could connect with what I was trying to say, that they hadn’t ever seen it that way (whatever ‘it’ happens to be, the subject or image of the poem). One of the poet’s jobs is to call attention to that which usually goes unnoticed. So when somebody notices, that’s a great pleasure.”


Also, check out The Spokesman-Review‘s article.

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