Tacoma's New Poet Laureate Explores Identity: Her Own, And A City's

May 22, 2017

Tacoma's new poet laureate, Kellie Richardson,  says her writing is laced with explorations of identity, and how different identities intersect. Sometimes, that means exploring her identities as an African-American woman, a mother, an activist, and a Christian.

Lately, she's also been thinking a lot about the identity of the city where she was born and raised. That includes "what gentrification continues to do" but also "having kids, and being able to see their journey's in the city versus mine." 

KNKX reporter Will James spoke with Richardson at the botanical conservatory at Tacoma's Wright Park, not far from where she grew up in the city's Hilltop neighborhood. (Listen to that conversation above.)

Richardson was selected as Tacoma's poet laureate in April. She said one of her goals was to strip away any sense that poetry is inaccessible or "outside of the people."  

"Sometimes, there's a misconception with kids and with communities of color that poetry is just for dead white men," Richardson said. "And there's so very much more to it." 

In an extra segment below, she discusses how her parents informed her activism, and how different generations of activists approach the work differently. 

"The baby steps have already been done and they haven't worked," she said. "So what's why the voices get louder and that's why the requests are now demands."