Tod Marshall, an accomplished Spokane poet and a Gonzaga University professor, has just been named the next poet laureate for the state of Washington. This makes him the first Eastern Washington resident to hold the title since the position was created in 2007.
Marshall officially takes over the position from Elizabeth Austen on Feb.1 and will be recognized at an event at an undetermined time and location in Spokane on Feb. 4. At Gonzaga, Marshall is a professor of English and is a director of the university's writing concentration program.
Marshall's most recent collection of poems, Bugle, which he called his darkest works to date, was heralded by critics and helped him win a Humanities Washington Award this summer. As the first of his family to attend college, Marshall has long been a proponent of bringing the written word to unlikely and overlooked groups of people, and said in a statement today that he hopes to continue that work as Poet Laureate, a position that raises literary awareness through readings, workshops and other events throughout the different regions of the state.
“When I meet people throughout the state,” says Marshall, “I hope to reinforce a message that as children they probably took for granted: their voices, their words, their songs of the self, are important and need to be heard."