The Nevada County Poet Laureate Program is an initiative of Nevada County Arts Council in collaboration with Nevada County Board of Supervisors.

What Is A Poet Laureate? What Does A Poet Laureate Do?

A poet laureate is someone chosen—originally by kings, now by governments and civic groups—to represent a region by composing poems for special occasions, reading in public, and helping to focus attention on poetry as an art form. Laureate refers to wearing a crown of laurel leaves, a symbol of honor in Ancient Greece for poets and heroes. [More history and lists of laureates here.]

The Nevada County Poet Laureate Program was inaugurated at Sierra Poetry Festival in 2017 in the presence of California Poet Laureate, Dana Gioia. Our program involves writing poems to commemorate county events (the opening of the Madelyn Helling Library's new amphitheater, for instance), reading (at the Sierra Poetry Festival, the Yuba Lit readings, etc.), and developing one or more projects to boost community involvement in poetry.

Current Poet Laureate Molly Fisk has sponsored a community-written poem, run a month of daily writing prompts for county residents, and met with interested locals during monthly designated Poetry Hours in county cafés and wine bars to answer questions and discuss poetry.

Molly Fisk is the author of the poetry collections, The More Difficult Beauty, Listening to Winter, Terrain (co-author), and Salt Water Poems and the essay collections Houston, We Have a PossumUsing Your Turn Signal Promotes World Peace; and Blow-Drying a Chicken. Her essays have aired weekly as part of the News Hour of KVMR-FM Nevada City, CA since 2005. 

Fisk has been awarded grants by the National Endowment for the Arts, the California Arts Council, the Marin County Arts Council, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. As well as Poet Laureate of Nevada County, CA, she’s Poet Laureate of KVMR and of Hell’s Backbone Grill in Boulder, Utah. 

 Molly Fisk with California Poet Laureate Dana Gioia at the 2017 Sierra Poetry Festival.

Molly Fisk with California Poet Laureate Dana Gioia at the 2017 Sierra Poetry Festival.

Fisk was born in San Francisco, educated at Harvard, and holds an MBA from Simmons College Graduate School of Management. She lives in Nevada City, where she teaches creative writing and works as a life coach in the Skills for Change tradition. She runs the on-line workshop Poetry Boot Camp (poetrybootcamp.com) and teaches expressive writing to cancer patients at Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital. Visit her at mollyfisk.com, and read her blog at mollyfiskunlimited.com.

  Nevada County Poet Laureate Molly Fisk

Nevada County Poet Laureate Molly Fisk

I’m completely delighted to be chosen as Nevada County’s inaugural Poet Laureate! Formalizing the role of Poet Laureate is a lovely gesture toward the literary arts of this very literary county, officially recognizing something that has developed organically over many years. I’m grateful to Nevada County Arts Council and the Nevada County Board of Supervisors for their understanding and support of poetry’s place in a thriving community. And I can’t say enough about how much I love living and working alongside so many good poets in our county.
— Molly Fisk
 Laurel leaves, a symbol of honor in ancient Greece.

Laurel leaves, a symbol of honor in ancient Greece.


God Speaks to the Rope Swings of Summer

in his gentlest voice, reminding them
about change, about fallow fields and the quiet
everything needs to grow stronger
at facing life and death, uncertainty, joy,
obstruction. This one, hanging straight
from its branch over Oregon Creek, is listening.
He mentions the way opposing twists
will hold each other longer
and how knots keep children’s feet
from slipping. Three-ply, four, hemp or nylon,
it doesn’t matter. The creek sparkles on,
creek-like. Woodsmoke dilutes the sky’s clear blue.
A madrone leaf slowly spins downstream,
oblivious and holy.                - Molly Fisk


Free Poetry Hours

As Molly says: "What the heck is poetry, what does it do, how is it different from novels, advertising, and songs? I can show you aspects of how it's made, give you a little history, a little gossip (no slander!), and I'd like to hear what poetry means to you. We can wander anywhere you want to go. This is an open forum for us to talk about all aspects of the art."

Poetry Hours are Wednesdays at 10.30am, once a month, from August through March.

NEW 2018 FREE POETRY HOURS SCHEDULE COMING SOON.

Questions?  Send us an email at info@nevadacountyarts.org or get in touch with Molly via email.