Letting the plot develop: Nevada County poet laureate reflects on her role, looks ahead | TheUnion.com
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Letting the plot develop: Nevada County poet laureate reflects on her role, looks ahead

Molly Fisk, appointed Nevada County's first poet laureate in April, hosts monthly "poetry hours" and writes poems for special occasions in the community.
Elias Funez/efunez@theunion.com |

As Nevada County’s first poet laureate, Molly Fisk has been busy reading, writing and trying to define what, exactly, her role is.

The biggest challenge, she said, is, “running around town, thinking ‘I wonder what I should be doing next? What could I do more? What could I do that would be useful?’”

Appointed in April, Fisk is nearly halfway through her year as poet laureate. Typically, the designated job of a poet laureate — a tradition that dates back to the 1300s — is to give readings for special events in a community. But the role is loosely defined. Fisk said she will soon sit down with representatives from the Nevada County Arts Council to reflect on what she’s been working on and begin “designing the program backward” for future Nevada County laureates.



In April, Fisk created prompts for her “poem-a-day” program. Interested writers could follow along with her prompts on the Arts Council’s website. She plans to bring the program back in November.

In June, Fisk was commissioned to write a poem for the grand opening of the Marian E. Gallagher, M.D. Amphitheater at Nevada County’s Madelyn Helling Library. She read the poem to a crowd during a ribbon cutting ceremony to commemorate the opening of the new space — which is set to host public performances including theatre, concerts and lectures.




Fisk also hosts monthly poetry hours at various Nevada County cafes, which include a conversation about poetry appreciation followed by a question and answer session. The one-hour events are free and open to the public.

“This is just one way we’d like to help poetry re-enter the public sphere — to bring it back into everyday life,” Fisk said.

The next poetry hour is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. on Oct. 11 at Coffeebar in Truckee, followed by an hour at Summer Thyme’s in Grass Valley at 5 p.m. on Nov. 8. A full schedule is available at the Arts Council’s website, nevadacountyarts.org.

According to Arts Council Executive Director Eliza Tudor, the council has offered Fisk a second year as poet laureate. Fisk said she’s honored by the invitation and is “seriously toying” with the idea of a second year.

“Any program with rigor needs to be allowed to develop organically,” Tudor said. “Having Molly in the post for a second year will allow some of our ideas to reach through. We love what Molly is bringing to the role. She is generous, spirited and intelligent, and the community seems to be responding well.”

To finish out the year, Fisk said she’ll continue working on “strengthening the relationship between Nevada County citizens and poems.”

“It’s sort of a marginalized art these days, and it’s not talked about much in our culture. But people are still reading poems all the time.”

She hopes to introduce local readers to new poets and get people excited about poetry. She said she may soon work on a “larger” poem about Nevada County to commemorate her experience as the first poet laureate.

To contact Staff Writer Matthew Pera, email mpera@theunion.com or call 530-477-4231.


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