Podcast: Tacoma Poet Laureate, Kellie Richardson

hosted by
marguerite martin

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About This Episode

This week Marguerite connects with Tacoma’s own, Poet Laureate, Kellie Richardson. She’s a lifelong T-Town resident stating that she arrived to Tacoma “through my mother’s uterus, via C-section at Tacoma General in 1975.” Or as some might say, born and raised.

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Show Notes

Richardson speaks candidly throughout the interview. She now resides in Hilltop where she plays witness to what she calls “street theater”, which in her words is both a blessing and a curse, and a combination of peace and battle that provide her a plethora of parently tools and advice. Marguerite inquires, how does one become the poet laureate and what does that entail? Richardson explains that the responsibility of the poet laureate is to develop the literary arts in Tacoma and walks us through the application process which includes submitting work and engagement strategies you would use during your term to achieve this. Hear why Richardson’s first and favorite event she hosted during her term as a writing workshop and open mic held at the Women’s Correctional Facility in Purdy. Richardson talks about her efforts to create spaces of cross cultural dialogue and healing to cultivate human connection you might not have otherwise. She speaks on her work with youth and students in particular and dives a bit into the topic of criminalization of black girls in schools. How girls are impacted by words and perceptions using this role across different sectors with examples of coded language. The ideal outcome, she says, “is to give young people, the youth most impacted by these decisions and behaviors to have the space to talk about what that impact is,” by providing a safe space to discuss how language has negatively impacted their education experience. Most notably how it impacts and influences students and self-concept and self-image. When discussing resources to help with these dialogues, ultimately, she is hesitant to point people to books because it doesn’t change your connections with other humans. Instead she encourages all to “go engage where you are in the minority if you can’t think of anywhere you need to work on your circle. Go engage with other humans. Period.” Richardson recently released What Us Is, a collection of poems that has been haunting her world for some time now. Some stuff is 10 years old, some is less than a year old but all revolves around unpacking experiences of identity and how that intersects with gender, faith, grief and loss. The collection is currently available on Amazon. Kellie is a self-professed, “late bloomer” in terms of art and sharing her work. She began her blog Brown Betty 253 as a way to heal but also let other people know they aren’t alone in their experiences. You’ll also encounter her venting about random things and mom trauma—which includes everything from a love letter written by her son in 2nd grade to accidently seeing her son’s member. Richardson has a line of luscious hair and body care products called Brown Betty that are all handcrafted. With the tagline #wedontdoashy, she created the line after reading that up to 60% of what you put on your skin goes into your bloodstream and wanting to produce something that keeps you hydrated and feeling good, knowing what types of ingredients are being used. The two also speak on her experience with Spaceworks Tacoma which she found positive. It’s open and welcoming environment and network, that provided support and feedback from cohorts with a variety of backgrounds. Closing thoughts, anything else we need to know? Kellie Richardson is a Sagittarius. Her birthday is December 21 and she welcomes gifts like Almond Roca. If there are opportunities you’d like Kellie to participate in like leading a discussion, writing workshops or gathering younger or older people to get together to talk about the literary arts email her at brownbetty253@gmail.com.