Nevada County poet honored as 2019 Academy of American Poets laureate fellow |

Nevada County poet honored as 2019 Academy of American Poets laureate fellow


What: Sierra College Poetry Festival to see a reading by Molly Fisk

When: 1 p.m. on Saturday

Where: Sierra College at 250 Sierra College Drive, Grass Valley, California

When the news came on April 24, Molly Fisk could hardly believe it.

In fact, she still can’t.

Fisk, a poet, radio commentator and writing teacher, was honored as a laureate fellow by the 2019 Academy of American Poets. She was one of 13 poets from around the country to receive the award, and is also Nevada County’s first recipient of the award.

“I don’t think I have any idea yet (how to feel),” she said. “I think I’m still wandering around in shock.”

The fellowship is associated with an award of $75,000 which will go toward Fisk’s “California Fire & Water” project, including statewide poetry teachings, public readings as well as an anthology addressing the climate disasters in the state. The public readings will occur in April 2020 in honor of National Poetry Month.

With the help of California Poets in the Schools, Fisk said she will be using the grant money to teach students in K-12 schools around the state poetry, specifically focusing on the trauma of experiencing a natural disaster.

“It just feels to me we need to do some work with kids who are under stress,” said Fisk.

The 23-year county resident has spent her career exploring different forms of trauma, and helping those who’ve experienced it first hand. As a survivor of abuse herself, Fisk uses poetry as a form of expression, and a tool to alleviate pain.

“Expressive writing boosts your immune system,” she said, adding that the technique can be helpful in group settings, letting people know they are not alone.

“Once you spit something out on the page you have mastery over it,” she said.

Fisk said the arts in general allow people to engage with trauma in unique ways, but poetry attracts people because writing — unlike dance — is more ritualized in society.

Still, the writer said poetry is often marginalized even within the arts, “partly because we all hated it in high school.”

Fisk said she finds it astonishing that the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation would provide so much financial support for this kind of work.

Fisk gave special thanks to the president of the foundation, Elizabeth Alexander, herself an acclaimed poet.

Contact Sam Corey at 530-477-4219 or at

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