KUOW has the news that our state's poet laureate for the next two years will be Tod Marshall, a professor at Spokane's Gonzaga University. You can find an audio sample of Marshall's work on KUOW's site. You can also find more samples of Marshall's work at the ever-indispensible Poetry Foundation. "Describe Turner to MLK" combines a harrowing eye injury with race and history in a way that I'm not sure is entirely successful, but it is certainly ambitious. "The Book of Failed Descriptions" is likewise ambitious — a long poem that combines fatherhood (a common theme in his work) with nature and mythology. He writes often about fishing, and about injuries to children, and nature.

We wish Marshall the best of luck as poet laureate. He is the state's fourth laureate, and he follows on the heels of two poets — Kathleen Flenniken and Elizabeth Austen — who were tireless advocates for poetry. Both Flenniken and Austen appeared in countless readings, classes, and public appearances during their tenures. They advocated for Washington writers, and for the importance of poetry in the public space. Marshall has a lot to live up to in his new role.