by Meg Fritz, Stevenson High School Student

Washington State Poet Laureate, Tod Marshall, has had a mission over the last two years.  Marshall has shared poetry with schools, senior citizens, inmates at correctional institutions, parks, and anywhere else, he feels he can inspire people.  An experienced poet, author, and Gonzaga University professor, including a brief teaching stint in Ireland, Marshall has discovered many “words that matter.”

Stevenson High School and Wind River Middle School students were grateful to be able to listen and talk with Marshall, who presented to English classes through all seven periods.  Marshall even went as far as to donate a copy of his book of selected poems called WA 129 (recognizing the 129 years of Washington statehood) to the school library.  By sharing meaningful poems and life advice, Marshall encouraged students to discover positive activities or places they can go allowing oneself to let everything go, and find peace.  Whether this be a sport, art or reading, students can immerse themselves and work towards well-being that builds them as a person.  Marshall shared that during his first two years of high school he was successful academically, but his grades tanked his junior and senior years when he made some poor choices.  He explained that being the first person in his family to attend college, soccer was his outlet in high school providing him with a college scholarship.  This path led him to a love of literature, specifically poetry.

As a personal goal, Marshall memorizes a new poem every month.  “When you memorize something, you invite it into your heart,” he expressed excitedly.  High school students participating in the yearly Poetry Out Loud competition were appreciative of Marshall’s wisdom and each student learned something new from him.  Stevenson High School and Wind River Middle School students and staff are thankful to Marshall’s sponsors, Art WA and Humanities WA, and to librarian Kathy Yeadon for arranging his visit.