Literary Event of the Week: Staged Reading of Killing Marias at Rainier Arts Center

When it was published last year, I wrote that Washington State Poet Laureate Claudia Castro Luna's new book Killing Marías: A Poem for Multiple Voices...

...tries to give voice to the innocent victims of Juarez[, Mexico] — the young women who are killed as a result of the ongoing war of the cartels. Specifically, Castro Luna writes poems about women named María who were killed in Juarez — one poem per victim, with further cues taken from the Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

As I wrote, in Marías Castro Luna serves as "eulogist and a pastor and a biographer and a commentator" for those murdered women, imagining their stories and offering them the dignity of a life that their killers never provided. "She speaks for those who cannot speak," I wrote at the time. "She stands for those women who fell."

Happily, she's still standing. Marías is enjoying a second life. The book has been shortlisted for a Washington State Book Award, and it will be presented as a free staged reading at Rainier Arts Center this Sunday.

With music written and performed by Trio Guadalevín and a dance performance from Milvia Pacheco, this isn't going to be your traditional reading. (Though local writers Donna Miscolta and Catalina Cantú will be unhand to read some of the pieces as well.) This is a multidisciplinary event intended to honor women who lost their lives for no good reason.

This is the kind of event that makes Seattle worthy of the UNESCO title of International City of Literature. It's based on the truth that even a quarter of a world away, even in a world divided by language and culture and politics, we remember. We're witnesses to the lives of those who were lost.

Rainier Arts Center, 3515 S Alaska St, 725-7517,, 2 pm, free.