T. S. Eliot was right. April is the cruelest month, especially for those who hate poetry and who are supposed to love it in April, National Poetry Month. But what about at least trying poetry on for size? There are more poets per square inch in the North Bay than there are cows, and picking out the best isn’t easy. It’s also foolhardy—every poet left out will surely be bent on revenge. But nonetheless, here are my nominations for the best poets to read this month from Sonoma, Marin and Napa.
1. Robert Hass (above), a local Marin County boy and former U.S. poet laureate, who writes incisively about time, space and nature in The Apple Trees at Olema: New and Selected Poems.
2. Carolyn Kizer, the grand old lady of American poetry, and a Pulitzer Prize winner, who lives in Sonoma and who explores gardens, mermaids, and more in her anthology Cool, Calm & Collected.
3. Dana Gioia, famous for his essay, “Can Poetry Matter?” and a master of poetic forms as demonstrated in Interrogation at Noon. Newly returned to the North Bay from Washington, D.C.
4. Brenda Hillman, who happens to be Robert Hass’ wife, a teacher at St. Mary’s College and the author of alluring and elusive poems, collected in Practical Water.
5. Richard O. Moore, who has been writing poems since the 1940s and who still writes them at his home in Marin and captures North Bay landscapes in Writing the Silences.