Article Launched: 04/21/2008 11:44:40 PM PDT
A willingness to put others first - especially young people - helped Woodacre artist Albert Flynn DeSilver earn his position as Marin's first poet laureate. "We had asked each finalist to bring a poem to recite at the end of their interview," said Jeanne Bogardus, executive director of the Marin Arts Council. "Before (DeSilver) recited his own work, he read a brief poem by one of the young students he had worked with. That spoke volumes. To us, that's what being a poet laureate is all about." DeSilver, who was not available for comment, was selected last week from among four nominees by the Marin Arts Council, Marin Poetry Center and Marin Cultural Services Commission to act as the county's poetry ambassador. The poet will receive a $5,000 stipend and will be expected to officiate at public gatherings, inspire others in their writing and bring recognition to the history of Marin County poetry. "My interest in the first place was to bring poetry into the larger community in Marin, to get it out of the community of poets and into the larger arena," said poet Richard Brown, who proposed the idea for a county poet laureate to the Marin Poetry Center in 2007. "Each person selected as poet laureate will have the freedom to decide what they will contribute." DeSilver began his career as a fine arts photographer after earning a bachelor's degree in photography from the University of Colorado. Later, he became a poet, earning a master of fine arts degree in new genres from the San Francisco Art Institute and publishing his work in several books, including "Letters to Early Street" and "Walking Tooth and Cloud," as well as literary journals worldwide. He is editor and publisher of The Owl Press. "He writes about nature, and has an interest in natural history," said Kate Levinson, owner of Point Reyes Books, where DeSilver has read and performed on several occasions. "He and (photographer) Todd Pickering did a book on the Lagunitas Creek watershed, which includes the work he did with students at the Lagunitas Middle School. It's a beautiful piece." As a teacher for California Poets in the Schools, DeSilver has worked with students in more than 25 public and private elementary and secondary schools throughout the country, including Sir Francis Drake High School in San Anselmo, West Marin Elementary School in Point Reyes Station and the Lagunitas Middle School. "He really jumps into the imagination of the kids," said Sally Hutchinson, an eighth-grade teacher at the Lagunitas Middle School. "He gets really involved in words and the creation of visual images, yet he has this quiet way about him. In working with kids, that's really a good combination."
Causes Albert DeSilver Supports
California Poets in the Schools
The Stepping Stones Project
Spirit Rock Center
KWMR Community Radio
Small Press Traffic