The Wahkiakum County Eagle - Established as The Skamokawa Eagle in 1891

State's poet laureate visits Cathlamet


February 2, 2017

Diana Zimmerman

Tod Marshall, Washington poet laureate, spoke to a small group at the Cathlamet library last Thursday. He shared other poet's work and talked about his time in Memphis, Tenn., and the aestheticism of violence, among other things.

Last Thursday, Tod Marshall, the 2016-2018 Washington State Poet Laureate, stopped by the Cathlamet Library to talk about his duties and experiences and share some poetry and ideas.

Marshall was raised in Kansas and is a proud Jayhawk; through a soccer scholarship, he began a rather lengthy education, first at an undergraduate school in Michigan. He still plays soccer today, though he admits more slowly and less skillfully. He studied English and philosophy before continuing on to earn a Masters in Fine Arts from Eastern Washington University, and a PhD from the University of Kansas.

That’s why he can be found teaching at Gonzaga University in the English department today.

“Humanities are integral for understanding one another,” Marshall said.

At the library in Cathlamet, he shared some poems from Countee Cullen, an Irish poet named Tony Curtis, Adrienne Rich, and the Bard of Sherman Avenue, whose work was featured in the Spokesman Review, and whose identity until recently, was unknown.

The Bard passed away not long ago, but Marshall was able to work with him to create a collection of his poems.

He also read some of his own work inspired by his time in Memphis, TN, where he grappled with violence and the wounds of a nation mirrored in the microcosm of an old southern city.

“What can wake us up from the desensitization of the world?” he wondered.

Marshall’s duties as the poet laureate for 2016-2017 include visiting libraries, schools, bookstores, correctional facilities, and retirement homes in Washington state.

“It’s an incredibly well paid position,” Marshall joked. Fortunately there is a $1,500 stipend each year for travel.

Marshall has written three volumes of poetry, as well as a book of interviews with some of his favorite poets. Until January 31, he was accepting submissions from poets, known and unknown, throughout the state of Washington for an anthology of poems.


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