Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Washington state poet laureate Tod Marshall takes a knee in the Seattle Times

Posted By on Tue, Sep 26, 2017 at 1:53 PM

Tod Marshall, Spokanite and Washington state poet laureate, is in a mood to protest for freedom of speech.
Tod Marshall, Spokanite and Washington state poet laureate, is in a mood to protest for freedom of speech.

Eastern Washington takes a considerable amount of pride in the fact that the state's poet laureate, Tod Marshall, is a Spokane resident and Gonzaga professor.

His term as poet laureate is in the home stretch as he nears the completion of two years scampering around the state, meeting with groups large and small, encouraging people to find the poet inside themselves and enjoy the words of their fellow Washingtonians.

Lest you think Marshall is a quiet academic type, content to wallow in the wonderful wordsmiths of yesteryear, you should maybe check out his column for the Seattle Times, published online Tuesday and in the major daily in Wednesday's edition.

In his column, titled "Let's all take a knee to stand for justice and to pray for a return to decency," Marshall delves into this weekend's hysterical public relations war between the current president and the professional football players who are daring to protest for the rights of black Americans and against police brutality. Marshall is particularly perturbed by the president's use of language to sow division in the country:

"The president devalues language, abuses truth and leeches the meaning from words. As Holocaust scholar Timothy Snyder reminds us, without agreed upon language there can be no shared truths. Without shared truths democracy fails.

"Further, without shared understanding of language, we cannot have honest and open conversations about race and social justice, about economic inequalities and health-care policy, about the history of discrimination in our country and the possible routes toward transcending mistreatment of any part of the population."

Marshall's term ends in early 2018, and no doubt he'll be heard from again on the state of the country — in poems or columns.

You can read the entire Seattle Times piece here.

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About The Author

Dan Nailen

Dan Nailen is the managing editor of the Inlander, where he oversees coverage of arts and culture. He's previously written and edited for The Salt Lake Tribune, Salt Lake City Weekly, Missoula Independent, Salt Lake Magazine, The Oregonian and KUER-FM. He grew up seeing the country in an Air Force family and studied...