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Spokane Poet Laureate Mery Smith will lead two workshops in late March at our Quincy and Moses Lake branches. Then she will come back in May for two more workshops at our Wenatchee and Cashmere branches.

You can now register for the first two workshops, “Joy and Sorrow: A Poetry Workshop”:

Quincy Public Library

March 28, 5:30 p.m.

Moses Lake Public Library

March 29, 6 p.m.

Smith began a two-year stint as the Spokane Poet Laureate in January. She lives in Spokane, where she is raising her four sons and works for a catering company. She recently took the time to answer a few questions for us about herself, her upcoming programs, and poetry.

Why does poetry matter? Why should people read poetry?

MS: Poetry for me, is a zoomed in moment. A slowed down high definition effect of really seeing and experiencing the world and its creatures. The breadth of humanity is to see know feel and move- and tell about it. Reading poetry gave me a window into myself – the front door was too intimidating – I could read (not just poetry) and find pieces of myself in stories and characters in a safe distance. Now, when I read poetry it’s to know and love the world. Now, I love myself, too.

Tell us a little about the programs you’ll be doing for NCW Libraries?

MS: I specifically created these programs around joy and sorrow because of the grief I was experiencing after losing my brother to an opioid overdose two years ago. I was experiencing some of the greatest pain and greatest joy right alongside each other. I remember thinking they aren’t that different really – and that’s when I read Khalil Gibran’s poetry describing that exact sentiment. I read what I already knew to be true! From a Lebanese poet who lived in the 1800’s – that is the power of poetry. Because poetry is a truth. A workshop was born that evening in my living room. I can’t wait to bring it to your branches.

What are you looking forward to most or hope to accomplish during your tenure as Poet Laureate?

MS: I want to continue to place the tools of poetry and writing creatively in general in as many hands as possible. I am also hoping to create a youth poet laureate position during my tenure.

For people who are interested in reading poetry but are new to it, where/how do you think they should start?

MS: I started with Walt Whitman; to me his work was so approachable. The same for Mary Oliver; words describing the human condition and the natural world. Start whenever and wherever you are – any page any day will do.


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