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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
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.