The City of Redmond has introduced a new poet laureate to promote poetry within the community and to represent Redmond with her own poetic literature.
Laura Da’ is a poet, a teacher and a lifetime resident of the Pacific Northwest. Da’ studied creative writing at the University of Washington and the Institute of American Indian Arts. She is Eastern Shawnee.
For her, representing Redmond as the community’s poet laureate presents an opportunity to “elevate the importance of place and community” and to be able to explore all the different stories in Redmond.
She is interested in delving into the stories of the changing landscape, the diverse multi-generational communities that inhabit it, and the changing relationship that people have to the natural environment — one that has changed immeasurably since it was inhabited by the indigenous first peoples.
She said she has always had a fascination with “how land changes humans, and how humans change the land.”
She used the example of rivers like the Cedar River, which flows through the urban sprawl of Renton. She said rivers like this — that are the “grounding force” of a community and have changed so drastically over time from human influence — show the “real ravages” of colonialism, and are a perfect metaphor for what interests her as a poet.
Da’ said that poetry embraces the “ambiguity of literature” in a way that, for her, strikes very close to the heart of honesty, image and identity. As someone who is familiar with both indigenous cultures and language as well as that of the descendants of colonizers, she appreciates the tensions in language that poetry can explore.
For example, the juxtaposed connotations that are held by those respective cultures when considering the word “land.” Da’ said this comes from two very different worldviews about the importance of land and the relationship that people should have with it.
Da’ is still defining her own role as Redmond’s poet laureate, but she knows she wants to let Redmond and the people within it tell their own stories.
As someone who was raised in the Snoqualmie Valley, she is familiar with the rural and agricultural nature that the region and Redmond used to share, a place which she says is of “rapid change, and rapid desire to define itself.”