Caroline Goodwin was 7 when she published a poem, “The Midnight Bird,” in the daily paper in Anchorage, Alaska, where she grew up.
Now, four decades later, Montara resident Goodwin has been named San Mateo County’s first poet laureate.
That’s an honorary post created by the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors and run by a poet laureate Advisory Committee co-chaired by Supervisors Warren Slocum and Carole Groom.
“Caroline Goodwin has the heart and soul and passion to spread the power of poetry” in San Mateo County,” said Slocum.
“(She) will inspire us with her wonderful poetry, as well as elevate this art form,” said Groom.
Goodwin will hold the two-year post beginning on Jan. 1, 2014. “I am really honored and privileged and grateful for the recognition and the honor,” she said.
She plans “to build a place where poetry can be experienced together” in an inclusive, empowering way. First is a Web presence for poets to submit and discuss poetry or post events.
Refining her goals through a “think globally, act locally” lens, she hopes to spearhead workshops in public libraries and schools, fashion events like the Poetry Out Loud national recitation contest, and tap resources like the “100,000 Poets for Change.”
“I hope to have some way for different communities in the county to be represented through their own poetry,” she said. “It’s important to have poetry in the public eye because it’s an important part of any healthy culture. We’re so fractured lately with our technology … I really believe that poetry is still important, maybe more now in the information age.”
Goodwin earned a master’s degree in creative writing from the University of British Columbia in 1994, and came to San Mateo County in 1999 to attend Stanford as a Wallace Stegner Fellow in Poetry. She is a senior adjunct professor in the MFA writing and literature programs at the California College of the Arts, and has taught workshops in the Stanford Writer’s Studio.
She shares her Montara home with husband Nick and daughters Naomi, a flutist studying music at the School of the Arts in San Francisco, and Izzy, a fourth-grader at Farallone View Elementary School who studies ballet.
“I think they’re proud of me, but I couldn’t have done it without them,” she said. Do they write poetry? “Not yet,” she laughed.