Poet laureate at Edmonds conference Friday

By Jim Hills | Sep 30, 2016
Tod Marshall

Tod Marshall, Washington’s poet laureate, will read from his work and answer questions from 5-5:45 p.m. Friday, Sept. 30, at the Edmonds Library as part of the 2016 Write on the Sound writers conference.

The Edmonds Bookshop will be at the library with copies of Marshall's books available for sale.

His presentation is funded by the Friends of the Edmonds Library.

An English professor at Gonzaga University, Marshall’s two-year appointment as the state’s poet laureate began this year in February. The role includes building awareness and appreciation of poetry through public readings, workshops, lectures and presentations across the state.

“The previous three laureates have all traveled a great deal and so I think that (a lot of travel) is an expectation,” Marshall said. “Outreach in the arts – in the humanities generally – is something that I’m passionate about, and so although the long hours on the road can get exhausting, I’m always enthused by the encounters with people.”

To get to those encounters and help the miles go by, Marshall said he is getting plenty of podcasts, talk

radio, sporting events and ’70s/’80s rock.

“I am continually reminded of how important the arts, the humanities, are to people,” said Marshall, who is attending his first Write on the Sound conference. “Poetry doesn’t just thrive at universities or in schools; from my many encounters with very young students and with old enthusiasts, I know that there is a powerful appetite for art, for philosophy, for history, for poetry – it’s great to encounter that.”

During his appearance in Edmonds, Marshall said he’ll be talking about blurring of lines between different modes of writing. “Poetry, fiction and nonfiction all share so many qualities; I’ll try to help writers see how they can work on all those modes of writing,” he said.

Marshall is the author of three books of poetry, most recently “Bugle,” which won the Washington State Book Award in 2015.

Marshall said he believes poetry needs to be both read and heard.

“I think that it needs both forms to thrive. They are two different flowers – think radiant, exuberant sunflower and tiny, quiet orchid,” he said.

“You know what, though? Both of them have the opportunity to achieve a similar sort of beauty – sometimes in the hush after a spoken line, there is a hushed echo of how ‘page’ poems function; sometimes in the raucous music of a Hopkins or June Jordan, there is a brash energy that unfolds in the mind.

“We need all of our poetries.”

Jim Hills is public information manager for Sno-Isle Libraries.


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