San Mateo County will soon have its first Poet Laureate, and she happens to be an award-winning Montara writer and professor.
Caroline Goodwin is poised to be appointed as the County’s first Poet Laureate by the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors at Tuesday's meeting.
Goodwin’s role as Poet Laureate will be to elevate poetry into the consciousness of San Mateo County residents and highlighting and celebrating the literary arts within the County.
If approved, she will take the two-year post, which commences on January 1, 2014 and will conclude on December 31, 2015.
“I am looking forward to meeting people throughout San Mateo County in the coming months to discuss, explore and celebrate the role of poetry in our lives,” said Goodwin. “Poetry is rhythm, poetry is music, poetry has many histories and roots and can act as a healer in our turbulent times. I love our diverse and beautiful County and am grateful for this opportunity to share poetry and serve.”
Goodwin was born and raised in Anchorage, Alaska. She moved to the Bay Area in 1999 after being awarded the Wallace Stegner fellowship in Poetry at Stanford University. Goodwin received her MFA in Poetry from the University of British Columbia in 1994. Long involved in the literary arts, and specifically poetry, Goodwin currently teaches in the MFA Writing and the undergraduate Writing and Literature programs at California College of the Arts in Oakland. She also teaches workshops through the Stanford Writer’s Studio. She is a published writer, her most recent book of poems called Trapline. She resides with her family in Montara.
The San Mateo County Board of Supervisors created the honorary post of Poet Laureate at the April 23 meeting. A San Mateo County Poet Laureate Advisory Committee was formed and co-chaired by San Mateo County Supervisors Warren Slocum and Carole Groom.
The Committee held seven meetings and 15 nominations were received by the Committee during the 6-week nomination period. Five finalists were selected for interviews. The interviews and selection process were completed on Sept. 23.
Goodwin was picked from the pool based on her resume, a poetry reading before the advisory committee and ideas about how to promote the arts in San Mateo County, according to Slocum.
“Caroline Goodwin has the heart and soul and passion to spread the power of poetry to the people of San Mateo County,” said Supervisor Slocum. “All of our 15 nominees were amazing poets which speaks to the thriving literary arts community in our County. We are proud to name Caroline Goodwin as the very first Poet Laureate in San Mateo County. She will greatly enhance the art of the spoken word.”
The tradition of naming a Poet Laureate began in 17th century England when John
Dryden was first named to the post an official Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress in 1937. In 1985, an Act of Congress changed the name of the position to Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress.
California was the first state to name a Poet Laureate informally and the position was established by the Legislature in 2001. A number of California counties and cities have followed suit and established the position of Poet Laureate, including the Bay Area counties of San Francisco, Marin, Napa, Sonoma, Alameda and Santa Clara, and now San Mateo.
Members of the San Mateo County Poet Laureate Advisory Committee include: San Mateo County Supervisors Warren Slocum and Carole Groom, California Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera; Jackie Berger, Director of the Master of Arts in English Program at Notre Dame de Namur University; Kalamu Chaché, East Palo Alto Poet Laureate; Maryann Moise Derwin, Chair of the San Mateo County Library JPA Governing Board and Portola Valley Town Council; Anne-Marie Despain, Director of Library Services for San Mateo County Library; Julie Fellers, President, Peninsula Arts Council; Mary Gutierrez, Dean of Language Arts at Skyline College; Clark Kepler, local business advocate; Bardi Rosman Koodrin, Literary Director of the San Mateo County Fair; Donald Mulliken, San Mateo County Arts Commissioner; Christopher Wachlin, President of the CA Writers Club, San Francisco-Peninsula Branch; and Bonny Zanardi, Arts Columnist for the San Jose Mercury News.
The Poet Laureate Advisory Committee will continue to work with and support Goodwin as she introduces new programs to engage the community.
“San Mateo County has a rich undercurrent of poets, poetry and other literary traditions," said Supervisor Carole Groom. "Our new Poet Laureate will inspire us with her wonderful poetry, as well as elevate this art form, giving it an inclusive voice and a visible presence in our day to day lives.”
Learn more about Goodwin and her work click here.