Arts & Entertainment

UWT’s 2nd Annual Poetry Festival brings campus writing community together

UWT’s second annual poetry festival created a safe and welcoming space for writers and poetry fans alike. 

This year’s UWT Poetry Festival: Between/The/Lines, took place on Monday, April 29, featuring three parts over one day.  

The first and second section of the festival took place at Jane Russell Commons with featured readings hosted by Tahoma West and UWT’s creative writing club, the Wordlings. Professors and students alike shared their favorite poetry pieces as the crowd ate snacks, enjoyed the photo booth, and magnetic poetry. The second section of the festival featured a guest writing workshop facilitated by Chris Vega, founder of Blue Cactus Press.  

The evening portion of the event garnered a crowd filled with students, alumni and community members to indulge in the beauty of poetry. Professors Ever Jones and Dr. Sara Chavez started the night off with a warm (and unintentionally comedic) welcome, recognizing the land where we learn, the local businesses and community members who tabled the event, as well as everyone in attendance.  

I had the honor of introducing the first featured reader, Paul Hlava Ceballos. Ceballos’ book,  
“Banana [],” combines personal, global and archived history to send powerful and meaningful messages behind the dark past of agriculture in the Americas. Ceballos’ read excerpts from poems, “Sonnet to the County Club Ladies at a Madison Park Cafe,” “Nogales Entry: Elegy for Jose Antonio Elena Rodriguez,” and “Eric Cortez.”  

The second featured reader, Laura Da, UW alumni and poet of Eastern Shawnee descent. Her chosen poems combine modern life with her ancestral culture providing the audience with insight and knowledge into the history of Shawnee people.  

Q&A with featured readers, Paul Hlava Ceballos and Laura Da. Taken by Shella J. Vasquez.

UWT student and Technical Communication major, Diana Nguyen, had the honor of introducing Da and describes her work as, “beautiful crafts of poetry that… introduce narratives in which readers will resonate with and feel invited to explore the complexities of life, culture and emotions.” 

Nguyen also noted that Da’s writing, “discusses many narratives and perspectives surrounding the history of Native Americans.” She found this, “impactful as our university is built on the traditional lands of the Puyallup Tribe.”  

Following the reading, both poets participated in a Q&A where attendees were able to ask a few questions.  

To wrap up the event, students, alumni and community members could participate in an open mic. What started as 2 or 3 participants turned into a list of over 20 people eager to read their own original work. Awkward smiles and soft claps became louder as each reader passed, providing a safe, respectful and supportive space for poets to read their work. Poems ranged from heavy, to lighthearted but shared the common goal of being a part of a greater community.  

Shining light on creative writing, Nguyen shared, “Like many other writers, poetry has been an outlet to express a lot of my feelings, interests, and struggles creatively. Creative writing is an amazing way to start some of the most powerful conversations and build beautiful connections with others.” 

To learn more about poets Paul Hlava Ceballos and Laura Da visit their official websites.  

Paul Hlava Ceballos at: 

Laura Da at: 

‘Featured image’ UWT Poetry Festival flyer. Taken by Shella J. Vasquez.