Milwaukie to host Oregon poet laureate Elizabeth Woody
Elizabeth Woody, Oregon's poet laureate, will be in Milwaukie this week to give a free public reading.
This event take place 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 14, at the Pond House, 2215 S.E. Harrison St., adjacent to the Ledding Library.
Woody, an enrolled member of the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, recently left her longtime Portland apartment to settle into a home in Warm Springs, where she grew up. She prioritizes reading requests from Oregon's rural areas, so Milwaukie was fortunate to host her.
Woody said she left Portland due to gentrification where overly high rents has caused it to seem like "every block has a brewery, a wine bar and a pot dispensary."
Of Yakama Nation descent, Woody was the first Native American to be named Oregon poet laureate, in 2016. Her poetry reflects her close ties with her family, the natural world and her people.
"There have always been boom and bust cycles in the West, and they're going to happen on greater extremes," Woody recently told the Portland Tribune. "Take climate change — the massive forest fires and decaying trees. People think they've gotten a good deal, but the mountains and rivers are dry and the rains are polluting. There's a limit. We're going to hit a wall."
Her collections of poetry include "Luminaries of the Humble" (1994) and "Hand into Stone (1988), reprinted as "Seven Hands, Seven Hearts," which was the winner of the American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation. A practicing artist, she also illustrated Sherman Alexie's poetry collection, "Old Shirts and New Skins" (1993).
Judy Elsley, English professor at Weber State University, wrote, "Woody's poetry acts as a tool for rebuilding history, reconstituting dignity and communicating culture."
In 2012, Woody completed her master's degree in public administration at Portland State University, where she taught at the Institute of American Indian Arts. She served as director of the Indigenous Leadership Program at the nonprofit environmental organization Ecotrust for 12 years. Next she moved to the National Science Foundation's Center for Coastal Margin Observation and Prediction at Oregon Health & Science University. Woody has worked as the K-12 program coordinator and is a past program officer at the Meyer Memorial Trust.
She studied at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and earned a bachelor's degree in the humanities from Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington.
Woody received the William Stafford Memorial Prize for Poetry from the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association in 1994. She also was the recipient of Hedgebrook's J.T. Steward Award for transformational work.
Woody leads writing workshops, lectures and has served on multidisciplinary art fellowship juries for several foundations and arts organizations nationally. She presently is on the board of directors of Soapstone: Celebrating Women Writers and Willamette University Advisory Council for Native Programs in Salem.