Writing in the Rain With Olympia’s Poet Laureate

by Christina Butcher for OLY ARTS

Olympia’s first poet laureate, Amy Solomon-Minarchi, is already hard at work promoting poetry within the community with her call for Writing in the Rain poems. Solomon-Minarchi is accepting short-poetry submissions until April 10, when she’ll select short poems of three to six lines to be “painted” onto city sidewalks during Spring Arts Walk 2017. Although it sounds like a simple project at first, the finished product will wow Arts Walk participants who’ll see their subtly “painted” poems come to life in the rain; the water-resistant coating will make the poems visible when wet. The poet laureate is asking for poetry that has a positive message related to art, life and nature. She explained where the inspiration for the project: “Part of our Olympia and Northwest culture is embracing the rain and being active within it. I hope the poems…inspire us to notice the beauty and potential for art in our city every day.”

Originally from New Jersey, Solomon-Minarchi moved to Olympia in 2008. She teaches English and creative writing at North Thurston High School and has 15 years of writing experience. She was appointed to the poet laureate position in November 2016, after Olympia’s city council approved her nomination by the Olympia Arts Commission. During her two-year appointment, she plans to create original poetry and an anthology, host public workshops, promote poetry as an art form and expand access to literary arts in the community. “I hope to encourage people to draw the writer within them out that they didn’t even know was there,” she said. “I hope to celebrate and honor the active poetry groups, poets and writing mentors who make Olympia a rich seat for literary arts.”

Since taking up the mantle of poet laureate, Solomon-Minarchi has already held a teen writing workshop, and she’s working on an Arts Walk poetry workshop called “Writing to Art” along with the Writing in the Rain project. In the spirit of Walt Whitman, she plans to curate an anthology of poetry that records voices of Olympia’s poetic community entitled I hear Olympia Singing. This summer she’s volunteering with the Ink Well program through Community Youth Services to provide poetic opportunities for poetry students of all ages and experience levels. OLY ARTS asked Solomon-Minarchi how her chosen art form fits into Olympia’s broader arts community. “Poetry abounds in Olympia,” she said. “I hope to bring visibility to it in subtle and meaningful endeavors…by encouraging the writing communities to share in the vibrant connections that we can make when we imagine together.”

What: Arts Walk

When:  5-10 p.m. Friday, April 28;
noon – 8 p.m. Saturday, April 29

Where: downtown sidewalks, Olympia

How much: free

Learn more: emailArts Walk

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