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Washington State's New Poet Laureate Wants To Build Bridges

Tod Marshall is Washington state's new poet laureate.
Courtesy of Amy Sinisterra Photography
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Tod Marshall is Washington state's new poet laureate.

Washington state has a new poet laureate: Tod Marshall, a professor and writer at Gonzaga University.

Marshall is the first in his family to attend college. He says that experience inspired him to try to use culture – poetry in particular – to build bridges between academia and the wider community.

In 2014, Humanities Washington commissioned Marshall to write a poem. He came up with what he describes as an epic road trip.

It’s called “Three Dreams From the East Side of the Mountains.” Here’s a short excerpt:

"I live, for now, far from the backed-up traffic. But I breathe and I blossom with all of my state. Salmon spawniest, rain rainiest, wide desert dry as a flickering lizard's tongue. Oh, Washington, Washington, when I next sleep I hope to dream of a whole you."

[asset-audio[{"description": "Tod Marshall reads his full poem, \"Three Dreams From The Eastside of the Mountains.\"", "fid": "114700", "uri": "npraudio://201501/MarshallThreeDreamsEntire.mp3"}]]Marshall will be Washington’s fourth poet laureate, serving a two-year term.

He takes the post from Elizabeth Austen, KUOW’s literary producer.