For Immediate ReleaseMarch 29, 2017
Debut reading with new title takes place April 4 at Board of Supervisors meeting
San Rafael, CA – As it rolls into National Poetry Month in April, Marin County is celebrating the naming of 30-year local resident and prolific author Rebecca Foust as its 5th Poet Laureate.
Poet Laureate steering committee founder Richard Brown made the announcement at a Marin County Board of Supervisors meeting on March 7, and Foust’s first public appearance as Poet Laureate will be to read a poem before the Board no earlier than 9:30 a.m. April 4 in the Supervisors chamber, Suite 330, 3501 Civic Center Drive, in San Rafael. (The reading comes after the conclusion of a 9 a.m. housing meeting).
Laureates, who are supported by the Marin County Free Library and other sponsors, serve two-year terms in Marin and have included Albert Flynn da Silva, C.B. (‘Lyn) Follett, Joseph Zaccardi, and Prartho Sereno.
Born and raised near Altoona, Pa., Foust enjoyed and experimented with poetry at a young age and earned an English literature degree at Smith College. She moved to California in 1979 to attend Stanford University Law School, then spent a decade practicing law. She settled in Marin, raised her kids and advocated for students with learning challenges – work that earned her a Golden Bell Award from the California School Boards Association.
After a 30-year hiatus, she returned to poetry in 2007. She has published five prize-winning books of poetry, most recently Paradise Drive (Press 53 2015), a collection of sonnets featuring a modern-day Pilgrim living in Marin. Paradise Drive was reviewed in the Bay Area in the Marin Independent Journal, the San Francisco Chronicle, and Rumpus, and in national venues including the Harvard Review, the Hudson Review, the Huffington Post, the Philadelphia Inquirer, and the Washington Independent Review of Books.
Foust received a master’s of fine arts degree from Warren Wilson College in 2010 and fellowships from The Frost Place, MacDowell, Sewanee and West Chester Poetry Conference. Recognitions include the James Hearst Poetry Prize judged by Jane Hirshfield, the American Literary Review Fiction Award, and the Constance Rooke Prize for Creative Nonfiction. Foust writes a weekly poetry column for a national magazine called Woman’s Voices for Change and has served on the board of directors for the Marin Poetry Center since 2008.
The 2017-19 Poet Laureate project, “Poetry as Sanctuary,” ties in with California’s status as a Sanctuary State.
“Poetry is a sacred space — church, a hospital, a hospice bed — offering a safe place for our most private, urgent, and otherwise ineffable expressions,” Foust said. “Reading and writing it opens an escape from technology, stress, life-overload, grief, and other emotional pain.
“Perhaps the most important service poetry can provide now is respite from or way to respond to current political events. Poetry can build community, and I’d like to use it to raise the awareness and empathy for what is at stake under the new administration for our undocumented immigrant population here in Marin.”
The Marin Poet Laureate program functions under the joint sponsorship of the Marin Arts Council, Marin Poetry Center, the Marin County Free Library and the Marin County Cultural Services Commission to promote poetry in the county. Past Laureate projects have included bringing poetry to students and the wider community through mixed-media, an anthology of poetry about bullying called Changing Harm to Harmony, a program that brings poetry to Marin’s senior facilities, and a traveling poetry “chair” constructed of actual books. For more information about Marin’s Poet Laureate program, visit www.marinpoet.org.
Sara JonesDirectorMarin County Free Library
3501 Civic Center DriveSan Rafael, CA 94903(415) 473-6051Email: Sara JonesLibrary website