Ina Coolbrith: The Bittersweet Song of California's First Poet Laureate (Paperback)
Ina Coolbrith: The Bittersweet Song of California's First Poet Laureate is a new biography about a pioneer poet, Oakland's first public librarian, and the most popular literary ambassador in the early American West.
In post-Gold Rush San Francisco, Coolbrith was known as the pearl of her tribe, a tribe that included Bret Harte, Mark Twain, and John Muir. Jack London and Isadora Duncan considered her their literary godmother, and John Greenleaf Whittier knew more of her poems by heart than she did his. Regardless of the acclaim from others, Coolbrith faced a series of challenges throughout her life that tested her devotion to her art. In the end, she put her full faith in poetry and her story reveals the saving grace of creativity in a woman's life.
George's deftly told and deeply researched book follows the struggles and triumphs of Coolbrith from her birth in 1841 as a niece of Mormon founder Joseph Smith to her death in 1928 as California's most beloved poet. California crowned Coolbrith its first poet laureate in 1915 during San Francisco's Panama-Pacific International Exposition, and 2015 marks her centennial of being named California's beloved first lady of poetry and America's first laureate.
"George's prose is finely turned yet unobtrusive throughout. It is her enthusiasm and affection for Coolbrith and California that gives this biography its vitality and crystal clear resonance." --Keith Skinner, Extract(s), Daily Dose of Lit
"In a book marked by literary grace and conviction, Aleta George presents a nuanced yet compelling portrait of a major California figure." --Malcolm Margolin, Heyday Books
"Telling Coolbrith's story, author Aleta George offers an intriguing glimpse of fin de siècle California and the rousing, sometimes rowdy adolescence of our nation." --Gerald Haslam, award-winning author and professor emeritus, Sonoma State University
"Coolbrith's tart, sharp intelligence and wit and lack of sentimentality come through loud and clear, which I love more than anything... She's a bad ass." --Sarah Bardeen, writer, editor, and music curator