5 Question Friday With Tacoma Poet Laureate Josie Turner

This week’s 5 Question Friday is a guest post from Luke Byram. Luke has done a handful of these before and always finds interesting people. Here he is with Tacoma’s own Poet Laureate, Josie Turner. 

I first saw Josie Turner on CityLine talking about her recent appointment as Poet Laureate of Tacoma and her plans in that role. Without further ado… here is Josie Turner.


1. What do you most love about poetry, why?

The poetic form allows the reader/listener to open the imagination.   Poetry can make you laugh, cry, break your heart, bring the senses alive.  It is what makes us human – that appreciation for the emotion.

2. What is your number one goal as Poet Laureate? 

I just want people to become more aware of poetry, to realize that poetry is not an abstract, but a living art form.   People often  think poetry was something written in the 19th century or even before and thus, because of the complexity of reading language we are not use to hearing, people think poetry is unapproachable or only cerebral.  But poetry in its best contemporary form speaks to the human condition and its metaphor reaches the reader/listener in some deeper place of the soul.

3. What is your favorite type of poetry, why?

I like good well written poems that speak to me.  I don’t have a favorite type of poetry.  I am open to all forms and love the discovery and appreciation of new poets.

4. Who is your favorite poet, why?

I don’t have a favorite but am influenced by a wide range of poets.  In the area, I have tremendous respect for Allen Braden, Marjorie Rommel, Rachel Dilworth, Kelli  Agodon Russell, Kathleen Flinniken, Michael Magee… gosh there are so many.  Casting a wider net, some of the more contemporary poets I continue to return to include Lola Haskins, Jane Kenyon, Robert Hass, Brenda Hillman, Mark Doty, WS Merwin.  I was raised on the coast of California and never tire of Robinson Jeffers.  We have a great press in Washington State – Copper Canyon  in Port Townsend.  I adore the various translations they have published and would recommend someone new to poetry to search their website for an interesting read.

5. What are your plans for 2012 as Poet Laureate? 

There was a recent death in my family so I am a bit behind firming up plans for this year.  That said, I plan to organize an activity around National Poetry Month in April and will be giving a couple of workshops – one in the spring and one in the fall.  I have been invited to read at Fogdog Poetry in Arlington in October and am looking forward to that.  In November, I hosted a reading by young poets at Kings Books.  I am very interested in promoting the efforts of youth and providing opportunities for them to read so I will be organizing another couple of these events in the coming months.

If you are interested in participating in 5 Question Friday or know of someone you think might make a good participant, email me at jackcameronis@gmail.com  – Jack Cameron

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