Past Napa County Poet Laureates
2021-2023, Marianne Lyon
Marianne was a vocal music teacher for 43 years. Her career includes teaching in Minneapolis, Brussels, Belgium, NVUSD, and Hong Kong. After teaching in Hong Kong from 2009 -2012, Lyon returned to the Napa Valley to seriously write poetry. To date, she has 240 poems published in various literary magazines, journals, and reviews including Ravens Perch, Leaping Clear, Slippery Elm, Black Fork Review.
Marianne endeavors to immerse our community in the art of poetry as writers, readers, and audiences alike. She is honored to be a member of the California Writers Club, Solstice Writers in St. Helena, and Cofounder of Wordsmiths of Yountville.
“I want to offer those who have never viewed themselves as a poet many venues and talented mentors to ignite their inner-poet. Through my teaching career, there are few people I have met who have not been brushed by poetry. Their stories inspired songs, verse, even quirky rhymes. Often their memories haloed their verse. Poetry is a part of everyone’s life even if they are not aware of it,” Lyon explained.
During the Laureate’s two-year appointment, she will officiate at selected public gatherings both virtual and in-person when safe, initiate a dialogue between poets and the community, inspire others in writing and personal expression and bring recognition to the history and tradition of poetry in Napa County. “I want to build a movement in Napa county that bespeaks Poetry as a Revolution. As poets emerge and are honored more will attempt to write a verse, share it, publish it,” said Lyon.
2017-2021, 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.
2015-2017, 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 Ph.D., 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.