Our new poetry collection, A Muckleshoot Poetry Anthology: At the Confluence of the Green and White Rivers, curated by Susan Landgraf and just published by Washington State University Press, originated from a grant and more than a dozen workshops. The book showcases the work of two artists and more than fifty poets from different tribal heritages living on the Muckleshoot Indian Reservation.

Expressive and moving, the participants’ pieces are about searching and belonging, loss and finding. Many are stories of “what happened” and “why.” All share a common theme—a reaching back and a reaching forward—sometimes in the same poem. Composed by writers who range in age from elementary school to adult, they highlight Muckleshoot history and culture, but also spotlight individual histories, lessons, and beliefs.

“I had heard about a call for proposals from the Academy of American Poets and because I was Poet Laureate of Auburn, Washington, at that time, I thought it was a wonderful opportunity—but I had no project in mind. A week before the deadline, I woke up one morning with the thought that it was right here in my backyard, ‘We are the Muckleshoot,’” Landgraf explains. “I wanted to know more about who the Muckleshoot people are. I wanted to hear their voices in poetry, since I am a poet. To my knowledge, no one had published an anthology of poetry by people of the Tribe. So I applied. I got the request sent off four hours before the deadline,” Landgraf says. She received the grant in June 2020, just as the Covid 19 shutdown started, so it took several months to get the word out about the workshops and anthology. She finished curating the manuscript fourteen months later, in August 2021, and says her favorite parts were conducting the poetry workshops and having the poems come in. “It was like Valentine’s Day every time I found a new poet in my email.”

Muckleshoot is the Native name for the prairie on which the 6.128 square-mile reservation was established in 1857. Federally recognized as descendants of the Duwamish and Upper Puyallup people who inhabited Central Puget Sound thousands of years before non-Indian settlement, approximately 3,600 people live on the reservation located near the original confluence of the Green and White rivers. The two vital tributaries held the sacred salmon and served as “highways” for the people. Tribal members view the land as linked to their heritage, stating, “What we were lasts only as long as we carry the memory.” This new work helps carry the memory.

Poet and journalist Susan Landgraf’s next title, Journey of Trees, is set to be released in 2024. She taught at Highline College and Jiao Tong University in Shanghai, as well as at the Port Townsend Writers’ Conference. She served as Poet Laureate of Auburn, Washington, from 2018 to 2020.