Claudia Castro Luna (she/her)

By Henrie Filart

A drawing of two of Claudia Castro Luna's books, "Killing Marías" and "Cipota Under The Moon."
“Books” by Anonymouse.

A prominent writer, poet, and instructor, Claudia Castro Luna served as Washington state’s 5th Poet Laureate from 2018 to 2021, becoming the first immigrant, woman of color, and non-native English speaker to take up the prestigious position. Responsible for the creation of Seattle’s Poetic Grid, an interactive map displaying poems relating to points of interest around the city, Castro Luna uses poetry as a medium to reach out to the public and give voices to marginalized communities.

Born in El Salvador, Castro Luna fled to the United States with her family when she was 14, leaving behind an authoritarian country engulfed in civil war. Initially residing in California, harsh criticism from educators in high school, as English was not her first language, only served to fuel her desire to succeed. Becoming proficient in English, Castro Luna received her BA in Anthropology, MA in Urban Planning, and MFA in Poetry from various institutions in California. Settling with her family in Seattle as a K-12 instructor, Castro Luna was appointed Seattle’s first Civic Poet from 2015-2017 by the mayor.

As an immigrant and woman of color, Castro Luna collided with the traditionally white, male-dominated literary world. As Washington’s first immigrant Poet Laureate, Castro Luna has been a vocal advocate for immigrant rights and social justices. She has criticized the handling and policies towards immigrants and refugees, citing the inhumane treatment of migrants at the southern border. She more than understands families who travel extreme distances, leaving everything they love behind to begin on an uncharted journey filled with uncertainty and hope. She felt the fear of separation, of losing her family after losing her home. For immigrants and refugees, lacking protection from rights, Castro Luna stands up for them.

During Castro Luna’s term as Washington’s Poet Laureate, she created Seattle’s Poetic Grid, an interactive cartography of Seattle, built to capture the many poetic voices of Seattle residents. Writers from all skill levels, be it seasoned poets or individuals writing their first poem, are welcome to contribute to the project. Seattle’s Poetic Grid allows for citizens to connect with others in ways that are not possible through simple conversation. Poetry has explored solutions to works such as environmentalism through new perspectives. The state has recognized Castro Luna’s poetic value, preserving the culture and history of Washington. Thousands of families are displaced in Seattle; tens of thousands more live in disadvantaged communities. As Poet Laureate, Castro Luna has made it her mission to reach out to these peoples and listen to their stories, raising their voices and giving them support at the same time.

Castro Luna has won more than a dozen awards and fellowships, alongside numerous publications of literature, her most recent publications being Cipota Under The Moon, One River A Thousand Voices, and Killing Marías from 2022, 2020, and 2017 respectively. Attending public speaking events and continuing to create literature, she works to highlight the voices of those who are silenced. Castro Luna currently works at Seattle University as an instructor.


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