Elizabeth Austen | KUOW News and Information

Elizabeth Austen

Producer

Year started with KUOW: 2001

Former Washington State Poet Laureate Elizabeth Austen has been interviewing poets and producing poetry segments for KUOW since 2001. She began as an intern while in graduate school for an MFA in creative writing (poetry) at Antioch University, Los Angeles. Once she discovered the joy of blending her early background as an actor and director (Book–It Repertory Theatre, Seattle Shakespeare Festival) with her passion for poetry as a spoken art form, she was hooked. She's been producing poetry for radio audiences ever since.

Her collection, "Every Dress a Decision" (Blue Begonia Press, 2011), was a finalist for the 2012 Washington State Book Award in poetry. She is also the author of two poetry chapbooks, "The Girl Who Goes Alone" (Floating Bridge Press, 2010) and "Where Currents Meet," winner of the Toadlily Press Chapbook Award and part of the quartet "Sightline," published in 2010.

Elizabeth's poems have been featured on Garrison Keillor's Writer's Almanac and online at Verse Daily, the Bellingham Review and DMQ Review.  You'll find Elizabeth's poems in anthologies including "What to Read in the Rain" and "Poets Against the War" and in literary journals.

She's performed at venues including Poets House in New York City, The Loft in Minneapolis, the Austin ArtSpark Festival, and locally at the Richard Hugo House Literary Series, Bumbershoot, and the Seattle and Skagit River Poetry Festivals. An audio CD, "skin prayers," featuring 26 original poems recorded with a live audience in the KUOW studios, is available on her website, www.elizabethausten.org.

Elizabeth was the 2007 Roadshow poet, bringing poetry to underserved rural communities in Washington state under the auspices of the Washington State Arts Commission, Humanities Washington, and the Washington Poets Association.  She is committed to fostering a broader understanding and appreciation of the literary arts in general and poetry in particular. She teaches frequently at Richard Hugo House, a literary arts center in Seattle, and she has been a visiting artist for western Washington school districts and colleges.

Ways to Connect

Claudia Castro Luna

Bill Radke and Elizabeth Austen mark International Women's Day with a conversation about a poem that echoes across 150 years of activism.

Seattle civic poet Claudia Castro Luna performs Sojourner Truth's "Ain't I A Woman?" It's based on a speech Truth gave at a women's rights convention in 1851. Castro Luna responds with a poem of her own reflecting her perspective as an immigrant from El Salvador in "Am I Not An Immigrant?"  


Tod Marshall, Washington state poet laureate
Amy Sinisterra

Washington state poet laureate Tod Marshall has just completed the first half of his two-year term. KUOW's Elizabeth Austen (Marshall's predecessor in the role) checks in with him about what it's like to travel the state talking poetry in a time of political upheaval.

Marshall reads a brand-new, as-yet-untitled poem that wrestles with, among other things, a persistent double-standard of accountability.

Chin Music Press

Bill Radke talks with KUOW poetry correspondent Elizabeth Austen about the book, "Are You An Echo? The Lost Poetry Of Misuzu Kaneko," illustrated by Toshikado Hajiri with narrative and translation by David Jacobson, Sally Ito and Michiko Tsuboi. 

Courtesy of James Rudy

Bill Radke talks with former Washington state poet laureate Elizabeth about the life and work of writer Lucia Perillo, who died October 16 at her home in Olympia at the age of 58.  

Karen Finneyfrock gives a contemporary voice to the Statue of Liberty in 'The Newer Colossus.'
Courtesy of Inti St. Clair

In "The Newer Colossus," Seattle performance poet and novelist Karen Finneyfrock gives voice to one of the most recognizable icons of America's immigrant history: the Statue of Liberty.

She told KUOW's Elizabeth Austen that a childhood visit to the Statue of Liberty and Emma Lazarus' 1883 poem "The New Colossus," which is engraved on the statue's pedestal, form part of the background inspiration for her poem.  

Poet Laura Da'
KUOW Photo/Kara McDermott

Elizabeth Austen talks to local poet Laura Da', the author of "Tributaries", about how she uses poetry to tell the story of her ancestors. Her book is the recipient of the American Book Award. 

Jourdan Keith.
KUOW Photo/Amina Al-Sadi

Elizabeth Austen talks to Jourdan Keith, founder and director of the Urban Wilderness Project, about the workshops she's leading for King County's Poetry on Buses program.  

Poets Faiza Sultan and Lena Khalaf Tuffaha at the KUOW studio.
KUOW Photo/Amina Al-Sadi

Elizabeth Austen talks to Seattle poet Faiza Sultan and poet and translator Lena Khalaf Tuffaha about how Sultan uses her poetry to bridge cultures.


Seattle skyline
Flickr Photo/Steven Santiago (CC-BY-NC-ND)/https://flic.kr/p/q4dpg6

Elizabeth Austen talks to Seattle's first civic poet Claudia Castro Luna about how poetry can be used to talk about the changing city. 

She is holding a series of poetry workshops around Seattle called "The Poet Is In."

Poet Quenton Baker
Courtesy of Helen Peppe

Elizabeth Austen talks to Seattle poet Quenton Baker about his mentor, Tim Seibles. 

Poet and activist Lena Khalaf Tuffaha
Courtesy of Ayman Aldahleh

Washington state poet laureate Elizabeth Austen presents two poems by Seattle-based poet Lena Khalaf Tuffaha: "Fragment" and "Running Orders." 

Tuffaha was born in Seattle, but spent her youth in the Middle East, the child of a Palestinian father and a Jordanian-Syrian mother.

Poet Rick Barot reads his poem "After Darwish."
Courtesy of Mara Barot

Washington state poet laureate Elizabeth Austen presents a "darkly beautiful love poem" from Tacoma-based poet Rick Barot.

In his poem "After Darwish," he gives voice to the perennial human longing for a love without conflict, without loss. His poem borrows a line from Palestinian  poet Mahmoud Darwish's "I Want From Love Only the Beginning." 

Tom Zbyszewski
Courtesy of Jesse Michener

Among the three firefighters who lost their lives last month fighting the wildfires in Okanogon was one with a connection to poetry. Tom Zbyszewski, 20, grew up in the Methow Valley.

That got KUOW's literary producer and Washington state poet laureate Elizabeth Austen thinking about how Pacific Northwest poets have responded to wildfires. She talked with Marcie Sillman about poems by Kevin Goodan and Nance Van Winckel.

Poet Quenton Baker
Courtesy of Helen Peppe

Elizabeth Austen talks with Marcie Sillman about a new chapbook from Seattle poet and teacher Quenton Baker.

Baker peels back layers of language to reveal the ways both blackness and whiteness are racialized in "Diglossic in the Second America," just published by Punch Press. 

Poet and registered nurse Martha Kreiner says poetry gives her "a wider container" for reflecting on her work with people who are homeless.
Courtesy of Amy Zimmerman

For the past five years, Martha Kreiner, a registered nurse and a poet, has tended to the medical needs of people living on Seattle's streets through the Healthcare for the Homeless network. The death of a patient lead Kreiner to write an elegy for him, in which she re-imagines his final moments:

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