Washington Poets Association President Paul Nelson presented the 2008 Faith Beamer Cooke Award to Whidbey Island poet Victory Lee Schouten.
The presentation was made at the recent Burning Word poetry festival at Greenbank Farm.
Nelson said that for years, the Washington Poets Association had an annual convention that had become, by some accounts, a poorly-attended and uninspiring affair.
“A couple of board members had a better idea and because of that, you are here today at the fifth iteration of what their idea was, the Burning Word Festival,” Nelson said.
Schouten’s dedication, he said, went above the normal call and that she took the poet Anne Waldman’s famous words — “a vow to poetry” — seriously to heart.
Among all the many volunteers and sponsors needed to make the festival a success, one person more than any other, said Nelson, ends up putting her own stamp on the festival year after year.
“She is the person, I believe, that makes this festival what it is; a vibrant weekend of poetry infused with a diverse array of aesthetics and strong sense of what a literary community can be,” Nelson said.
The Faith Beamer Cooke Award was given to Schouten because of her strong commitment of service to the Washington state poetry community.
Originally from Central Washington’s Yakima Valley, Schouten has made her home on Whidbey Island for the past 19 years. While both places strongly inform her poetry, it is the human experiences that imbue her work with the warmth and insights for which she is known.
Long engaged in serving poetry and community, Schouten has served two terms as vice president and two terms as president of the Washington Poets Association.
Schouten’s work has appeared in a number of anthologies and she has recorded two spoken word CDs, “Selections from Wolf Love” and “Here to Have Words with You.”
She has published two poetry chapbooks, “Wolf Love” and “Snapshots from a Moving Life.”
Schouten has been a featured reader at Seattle’s Frye Museum, at Tacoma’s “Distinguished Writers Series” and at many other regional venues.