Poet laureate Ashly McBunch recognized by Olympia for their service in inspiring others through their works


The Olympia City Council recognized Ashly McBunch, the city's poet laureate from 2021 to 2023, who helped engage the community in the literary arts.

At the city council meeting held Tuesday, January 10, Arts Program and planning advisor Stephanie Johnson also announced that a new poet laureate will be selected for 2023 to 2025. Applications will open in late February.

According to Johnson, McBunch was appointed poet laureate in April 2021. Since then, McBunch has worked to fulfill the program's goals, including promoting poetry as an art form, expanding access to literary art and connecting the community to poetry.

"[McBunch] promotes poetry as a community voice that contributes to a sense of place. Ashley was tasked with utilizing the power of poetry and language to foster understanding and support healing around issues of equity and inclusion in the community," Johnson said.

She added McBunch will be involved in selecting and onboarding the 2023 to 2025 Olympia poet laureate.

During the recognition, McBunch recited their poem, "We Are Existence of Hope."

Councilmember Yến Huỳnh thanked McBunch for sharing their talents and service to the community.

"I want to express my gratitude for your work over the last year. Each time you come back to us, you always leave me thinking with your words," Councilmember Dontae Payne said. He also thanked McBunch for writing a poem in the Reimagining Public Safety process.

"I just want to thank you because every time you read one of your poems, you made us create our own… you've made me think and learn," Councilmember Lisa Parshley commented.

Mayor Pro Tem Clark Gilman commented McBunch's poem "guides our work – we need to learn enough to listen with our heart."

According to the city's website, McBunch is an Army veteran. They spent many years writing for a creative outlet.

McBunch moved to Olympia in 2017 while stationed at Joint Base Lewis McChord.

UPDATE January 17, 2021: We modified this story to reflect that Ashly McBunch uses they/them pronouns. 


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