Caroline Goodwin

Caroline Goodwin

Caroline Goodwin moved from Alaska to the San Francisco Area to attend Stanford as a Wallace Stegner Fellow in poetry. Her seven books of poetry are woven into the natural world. Her most recent collections are Old Snow, White Sun (JackLeg Press), Madrigals (Big Yes Press), and Matanuska (Aquifer Press, Wales, UK). She lives on the San Mateo coast with her daughters and teaches at the California College of the Arts. From 2014-2016, she served as the first Poet Laureate of San Mateo County.

Poem on Belonging


my daughter in the saddle the hills
not rising behind her not coming up not
jutting into the sky but rather
holding her like a couple
of large soft arms
as the animal turns
at the far end of the fence and heads
back toward me I am standing at the gate now
and I can sense the valves of my heart opening
and thumping shut steady as hooves unbeautiful
as a thing you’d find beneath a stump
something mysterious and unidentifiable
with jagged edges asymmetrical and perhaps a dark
purple maybe the size of a fist (like they say)
but so distinct from anything you’ve ever
seen before that you’re moved to invent
a new kingdom a realm untouched
by the physical world
where the need to name the shape
does not even exist
and nothing can be pinned
down or held as evidence and nobody
knows the code or holds the key

Copyright © 2019 by Caroline Goodwin. Used with permission of the author.

Find Caroline’s books in the library!

Matanuska (2022)
Madrigals (2022)
Old Snow, White Sun (2021)
Trapline (2013)

Poet Laureate Project

Appointed by the County of San Mateo Board of Supervisors in 2014, Caroline Goodwin served as the Inaugural Poet Laureate of San Mateo County through 2016.

“My community project was to promote and judge county-wide poetry campaigns and contests, all organized around a theme and culminating in an event at a different venue. With support from Carole Groom’s office and staff, and Warren Slocum’s office and staff, we promoted each campaign throughout the county. Our first event was “Poetry Is” and California Poet Laureate Emeritus Al Young featured at the Belmont Library with Lakiba Pittman, Kalamu Chache, and the winners I selected from the different age groups: Youth, Teen, Adult. Thereafter, we promoted such themes as “Poetry is Heritage,” “Poetry is Autumn,” “Poetry is Nature,” “Poetry is Love,” and “Poetry is Family”. We held one event at the Fair Oaks Community Center, and featured Santa Clara PL David Perez for Poetry is Heritage.”

Caroline Goodwin, Inaugural San Mateo County Poet Laureate

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