For Artists / Opportunities

Office of Arts & Culture, Seattle / 2019 - 2021 Civic Poet / Call for Poets

Submission fee


In partnership, the Seattle Office of Arts & Culture and the Seattle Public Library support an experienced poet with a two-year City residency as literary ambassador. In addition to annual City events, the Civic Poet will foster community dialogue and engagement between the City, the public, and other artists, while celebrating the literary arts.

The Seattle Civic Poet program, launched in 2015, is inspired by the previous Poet Populist program instituted in 1999 by Seattle City Council member Nick Licata. The goal of the Poet Populist program was to support the practice of literary arts, democracy, and promote local literary arts organizations to a general audience citywide. The Poet Populist program was discontinued in 2008. The Civic Poet program continues the legacy of the Poet Populist program by fostering community dialogue and engagement between the public and artists, while celebrating the literary arts.

Application Deadline
Wednesday, April 24, 2019 at 10.59 p.m. (Pacific Daylight Time).

This call is open to Seattle-based poets who have an established body of work including published works, reading/spoken word, plus project planning experience and applied racial equity practice. Applicants must:
• be Seattle based (residence in the city of Seattle),
• be eligible to work in the U.S.,
• have demonstrated interest/experience in promoting equity and inclusion through the arts, and
• show strong program planning and implementation.
Scope of Work
The Civic Poet will generate a work plan within budget for each year that includes public readings at up to five municipal events annually and community engagement opportunities that could include classes/workshops, lectures, curatorial services, and solo or group readings to engage diverse communities of all ages. The Civic Poet will also plan and schedule monthly poetry presentations to the Seattle City Council Civil Rights, Utilities, Economic Development, and Arts committee.

Applicants do NOT need to submit a work plan for initial application purposes. Finalists will be compensated for a draft work plan to be presented to the panel during the interview.

The compensation for the two-year Civic Poet commission is $10,000. Funding is allocated at $5,000 per year. It compensates time for writing, administration, performances, event costs, materials, travel, fees, taxes, and other project-related costs.

Optional Workshop
Saturday, February 16, 2.00 p.m. to 3.30 p.m.
Seattle Public Library – Columbia City Branch
4721 Rainier Ave. S.
Seattle, Washington 98118

Learn what makes a strong application. The session will cover specifics on eligibility and how to apply. All applicants are encouraged to attend. Please RSVP for the workshop by emailing Irene Gómez, Civic Poet Program Manager, at

Application Requirements
Applications must include the following:
1.  Statement of interest and commitment to this commission, that includes your relationship to Seattle (2,000 characters maximum, including spaces).
2.  Description how new work, projects, and events will reflect new and different voices/perspectives through poetry (2,000 characters maximum, including spaces).
3.  Description of capacity to plan, implement, and partner on projects/events (2,000 characters maximum, including spaces).
4.  Résumé (three pages maximum)
5.  One letter of recommendation that endorses your literary gifts and ability to plan/implement a project.
6.  Two literary work samples:  two poems, no longer than five pages each
7.  Materials showing proof of establishment within the field:
    +publication cover, article, or promotional piece
    +audio/video of significant performance

Selection Criteria
The peer review panel will assess applications based on the following criteria:
• Advanced skill as a generative and committed poet with strong ties to Seattle,
• Demonstrated ability to engage audiences across sectors,
• Capacity to apply racial equity practices/skills to work, and
• Ability to plan and execute projects.
We’re Here to Help
Please contact Irene Gómez, Civic Poet Program Manager, at or 206.684.7310, with any questions about this opportunity.

Eligible media

Literary Arts