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National Poetry Month April 2023: Poet Laureates of Napa


For over a decade, the Napa County Library, in partnership with the Arts Council of Napa Valley, has appointed a "poet laureate" for the Napa Valley area.  The poet laureate generally serves a two-year term and often attends local events and advocates for the arts. 

Poet Laureates of Napa

Marianne Lyon

Marianne Lyon not only is a poet, but taught music for decades before settling down in Yountville.  She even instructed students at Hong Kong International School.  That international experience influenced several poems based on her experiences.  Lyon sees poetry and music as inextricably linked and has ambitions to form a “Revolutionary Poets Society” group to encourage Napa Valley residents, especially Spanish-speakers and local students, to utilize the unique power of the written word in order to give voice to their lived experiences.  She also plans to encourage a series of concerts about once every two months to showcase new poetry and instrumental music based on those poetic works. Lyon has also entered different poetry contests and earned second prize at the 2017 Dancing Poetry festival in San Francisco for her poem, “If the Beach Could Sing She Would Sound Like a Cello."  She was also a nominee for the Pushcart Prize in 2016 for her poem “Major to Minor."

For more information on Marianne Lyon, check out the following:

Jeremy Benson

Jeremy Benson is an organic farmer who also writes poetry.  He began writing in high school and continued in college, taking classes at Hope College in Michigan.  He often combines his love of language and his love of nature when he writes.  Prior to the pandemic, Benson held "office hours" at local venues, such as the Napa Main Library, attended poetry slams, and judged the Napa Valley County library's teen poetry slam.  In 2017, he was appointed by the Napa County Library, in partnership with Arts Council Napa Valley, as Napa's poet laureate.  In this capacity, Benson wanted to share his love of poetry with young folks and get them writing.

For more information on Jeremy Benson, check out the following

Beclee Wilson

Beclee Wilson is a resident of St. Helena and was selected as the Napa poet laureate in 2015 and served until 2017.  A graduate of Northwestern University’s School of Speech, where she earned an MA, and a graduate of  the University of Michigan with a PhD, Wilson is no stranger to the power of language.  She understands the performative power of poetry and the impact that hearing, rather than simply reading poetry, has.  She has shared her love of the written word with fourth and fifth graders at St. Helena Elementary School, helping them access their inner poets.  She is especially interested in making April's Poetry Month a much more visible and important part of the local elementary schools' language arts curriculum.  Wilson also attends the Napa Valley Writer’s Conference almost every year.  She is passionate about providing more opportunities for local poets to publish their work, advocating for poetry to be published in local newspapers.

For more on Beclee Wilson information, check out the following: