cheryl latif, poet

The first of my published poems was the dancer, which appeared in a California State University Stanislaus small publication entitled Between Sheets in 1978 (those days my poems were untitled). i’d never before submitted my poetry. It was a wonderful surprise to have it accepted. 

i’ve been writing since i was 12 and didn’t really share my work until i moved to San Diego in the early 80s and began to read at poetry venues and to find my voice (it takes some work to recite your poetry in just the right way). 

A native of Southern California, i attended the 2000 Seattle Poetry Festival, during which the Pacific Northwest stole my heart. i returned to San Diego, where I was host and curator of a nationally known weekly reading, Poetic Brew at the Claire de Lune, committed to making the Northwest my home.

Despite the incredible success of Poetic Brew, i made my way north in 2001, landing on Bainbridge Island for five years. During this time i served as a judge for poetry contests sponsored by the San Diego Writers Cooperative (2002); Berkeley’s Bay Area Poets Coalition (2003); and San Diego’s African American Writers and Artists (2003). 

My poems have appeared in local, regional and national publications, and i’ve had columns in the Bainbridge Islander. i was both first and third place winner of the 1999 SPAWN poetry contest; was commissioned in 2002 by Temple Emek Shalom, Ashland, Oregon, to write a poem for the dedication of their new sanctuary; and earned semifinalist in the New Millennium Writings 2004 contest and honorable mention in their 2006-7 contest. In addition, i earned the Award of Excellence in Poetry from the City of Bainbridge Island and Bainbridge Island Arts & Humanities Council in 2005.

Now a resident of West Seattle, i continue to spend my time fooling with words, in love as ever with the Northwest sky under which i live.

i am the author of two chapbooks, transformations and rain on my tongue. A limited-edition handmade book of seventeen new and selected poems, tears & ash, was produced in 2003. 

i recently co-authored, with sculptor Brad Burkhart, a hardcover coffee table book, Reflexions: Sculpture & Poetry, published in 2023.