Rebecca Foust is the Poet Laureate of Marin County and author of the books Paradise Drive; All That Gorgeous Pitiless Song; and God, Seed: Poetry & Art About the Natural World; as well as the chapbooks Dark Card and Mom’s Canoe.



Please check out the Appearances page to find out the date for Rebecca’s next event.


I grew up in western Pennsylvania, a paradoxical place of farmlands and forests, quarries and strip mines. Scholarships enabled me to earn degrees from Smith College and Stanford Law School, and I relocated to Northern California where I live now. After years of private practice followed by years of advocacy for kids with autism, I left law to pursue my writing. The year I turned 50, I went back to school, earning an MFA in poetry from Warren Wilson in January 2010.

Paradise Drive won the 2015 Press 53 Prize for Poetry and was widely reviewed in venues including the Times Literary Supplement, San Francisco Chronicle, Philadelphia Inquirer, Huffington Post, and journals including Georgia Review, Harvard Review, Hudson Review, Pleiades, Poet Lore, and Smartish Pace. My first full length book, All That Gorgeous Pitiless Song won the Many Mountains Moving Book Prize and was released in 2010, the same year that God, Seed: Poetry & Art About the Natural World won the Foreword Review Book of the Year Award for Poetry. Mom’s Canoe and Dark Card, recipients of the Robert Phillips Chapbook Poetry Prize in consecutive years, were released by Texas Review Press in 2008 and 2009.

My poems, book reviews, essays, and short stories are widely published. Recent recognitions include the 2015 James Hearst Poetry Prize judged by Jane Hirshfield, American Literary Review’s 2015 Fiction Prize judged by Garth Greenwell the 2015 Constance Rooke Creative Nonfiction Prize, and fellowships from MacDowell, Sewanee, and the Frost Place. In 2017 I was appointed Marin County Poet Laureate, and my project description is below. I’m the poetry editor and write a weekly column for Women’s Voices for Change, and an assistant editor reading fiction for Narrative Magazine.

My 2017-19 Marin County Poet Laureate project, “Poetry as Sanctuary,” ties in with California’s status as a Sanctuary State and also has a broader application. Poetry is a sacred space – church, a hospital, a hospice bed – offering refuge for our most private, urgent, and otherwise ineffable expressions. Reading and writing it opens an escape from technology, stress, life-overload, grief, and other emotional pain. Perhaps the most important service poetry can provide now is respite from or a way to respond to current political events. Poetry can build community, and I’d like to use it to raise the awareness and empathy for what is at stake under the new administration for our undocumented immigrant population here in Marin. To this end, I’m organizing a series of community open mikes on themes such as Peace, Immigration & Diversity, and Gender, along with readings featuring immigrant poets in the county libraries. For details about events visit the Marin County Poet Laureate Facebook page or your local Marin County Library events page and select the “Poet Laureate” tab.



12/3/17            Community Open Mike: The Gender of Things Mill Valley Library, 3 pm

12/4/17            Host book launch for Javier Zamora’s UNACCOMPANIED, Book Passage Marin, 7 pm

12/5/17            Community Reading: ForWords Students and Poetry Mask artist Alejandro Lopez, Fairfax Library, 7 pm

12/8/17            Javier Zamora at The Branson School, reading & reception, special invite

12/12/17          Frost Place Fellows Reading with Robert Hass and Christina Hutchins


2/13/18            Poet Laureate in conversation with Jasmin Darznik, author of new novel about Iranian poet Forugh Faroukazad, Song of the Captive Bird Book Passage in Corte Madera, 7 pm

2/23/18            Pilot shoot for new series for on younger, rising poets in Marin; Brian Jones, co-producer of Marin Poets Live! For Marin Community TV has invited me to host and help plan the series

2/24/18            International Association of Sufism Songs of the Soul Poetry and Sacred Music Festival series, Celebrate the Sacred Songs of the Soul: Rebecca Foust and Reverend Canon Charles P. Gibbs – Moderator: Safa Ali Michael Newman. Embassy Suites, San Rafael, 10:40-11:20 am

4/10/18            Feature at Poetry Santa Cruz, 7:30 pm, venue TBA, 7 pm

4/12/18            Introduce Javier Zamora at his reading with teen poets, Pickleweed Library, San Rafael, 7 pm

4/24/18            Host Copper Canyon Reading with Dana Levin, Dean Rader, and Melissa Stein, Mill Valley Library, 7 pm

4/26/18            Judge and Emcee for MPC High School Awards Ceremony, The Marin School, San Rafael, 7 pm

4/27/18            Arbor Day celebration, Marin Civic Center, San Rafael, 12 pm

5/11/18            Host Poetry World Series featuring Daniel Handler as emcee, celebrity judges Lee Herrick and Molly Giles, and rising Marin Poets, Mill Valley Library, 7 pm

5/19/18            Ina Coolbrith Feature, Lafayette-Orinda Presbyterian Church, 49 Knox Dr., Lafayette, Room 201. 2 pm (45 mins)

6/5/18              Poetry and Community Panel with Prartho Sereno, and Albert Flynn De Silver, 4:30 pm. Reading, 7 pm. Both events at Dominican University, Garden Room of Edgehill Mansion (next to the Santa Sabina Center)

6/30-7/4/18      Marin County Fair: Events every day at the indoor sound stage in the Exhibit Hall, 11:30-1 pm, including Readings for Creative Writing Competition Awards and an open mike. Walk-In poetry consults daily 3-5 pm

11/11/18          Poetry Flash reading with Lisa Dordal, East Bay Booksellers (formerly Diesel),  5433 College Avenue, Oakland, 3 pm


Monthly after school drop in poetry workshop for teens at the San Rafael Library, 5-5:30 pm on a day TBD

Readings with Javier Zamora and ForWords students at the Novato and South Novato libraries, Fall 2018

New series on Marin Community TV featuring Marin’s young poets



Paradise Drive
Available at Press 53

“There is great music in these poems, and sonnet after sonnet is masterful. Not since Berryman’s Henry have I been so engaged by a persona: Pilgrim, who ‘like most of we’ is good and bad, hapless sometimes, other times approaching wisdom, always sending deeper and deeper her primary roots.” — Thomas Lux

“In Rebecca Foust’s splendid book-length sonnet sequence, Paradise Drive, we come upon a Pilgrim contemplating the deadly sins while hiding out in the bathrooms at some of Marin County, California’s swankiest parties. Foust drives her Keatsian sensibility straight into the 21st century of terrorism and autism, divorce and yoga, soldiers and syringes, booze and valet parking, determined to prove that truth makes beauty.” — Molly Peacock

“Foust does it: she reinvents the sonnet form, making it a unit of expression again, not a museum piece sitting on its plinth, forlornly wishing we’d quit paying homage to it. She strews the individual poems with savagely sparkling jewels of satire, insight, and wit. This is a masterful book, yes, and also a great deal of fun to read.” — James Cummins

“The poetry is witty and surprisingly engaging, as if Sylvia Plath had been crossed with the humorist Erma Bombeck, who pioneered a woman talking openly of her working class origins.” Thompson, N.S. “The Motionless Pilgrim.” Times Literary Supplement. June 2016.

“Bay Area Poet Rebecca Foust emerges as an original voice in contemporary poetry.” Diana Whitney. “Poetry: John Burnside, Jane Hirshfield, Rebecca Foust, Deborah Landau.” San Francisco Chronicle. July 2015.

“The counterpoint of authentic sentiment and a kind of Augustan wit in – think Pope and Dryden, but also Juvenal – is quite original.” Wilson, Frank. “Paradise Drive: In the Lap of Plenty, Wishing for Better.” Philadelphia Inquirer. November 2015. 

“Foust’s language makes me think of Nabokov and how dark and light he can be in the same phrase.” Rader, Dean. “Thou Hast Thy Music Too: Three books for Autumn.” Huffington Post. December 2017.

“This book proves that the record of humankind will be found in poetry. It is funny and compelling. It aches with truth.” Cavalieri, Grace. “April 2015 Exemplars: National Poetry Month’s Best Picks.” Washington Independent Review of Books. April 2015.

“A bravura composition, poems packed with compelling images.” Berman, Barbara. “National Poetry Month Picks.” Rumpus. April 2015.

“Foust’s command of allegory, her range of sonnets, and her examinations of self and society result in a compelling and timely collection.” Tavel, Adam. Book review. The Georgia Review. Fall 2015.

Foust’s language is compelling; her skill and craft authoritative and assured. It would be hard not to read this collection through in one sitting.” —Blake, Lorna Knowels. “Review of Paradise Drive by Rebecca Foust, The Bus Driver’s Threnody by Michael Spence, and To Forget Venice by Peg Boyers.” Hudson Review. Spring 2015.

“Paradise Drive is an ambitious and stunning work.” Logsdin, Rich. Poet Lore. Vol. 110 No. 3/4 Fall 2015 .

“Foust’s quite considerable accomplishment is to have written a book that is vivacious and filled with snark while almost never losing sight of an underlying seriousness.” Rossi, Lee. “Rebecca Foust: Paradise Drive.” Smartish Pace.  July 29, 2015.

“What made Chaucer relevant to his time is what makes Foust relevant and compelling for us today: keen attention to craft; courage to wrestle with serious themes; and a humor that both betrays and saves us.” McClatchey, M. B. “Paradise Drive by Rebecca Foust.” The Collagist. April 2015.

“Neither confession nor caricature, Foust’s tale of her Pilgrim’s progress is both specific to the speaker’s time and place, and yet universal, emotionally painful and, in places, completely hilarious.” Gray Jr., Elizabeth.  “Review of Paradise Drive,” Harvard Review. March 31, 2016.

“Foust has achieved something remarkable here. We saw it in earlier books: a consummate craft that does not intrude.” Woodword, Anne Harding. “Anne Harding Woodword on Rebecca Foust,” Innisfree Poetry Journal. Issue 22.

“Rebecca Foust strings more than eighty [sonnets] together in this biting, rhythmically haunting collection.” Sutherland, Matt. “Fables, Spirits, and How Not to Lose Your Head to Poetry.” Foreword Review Magazine. Fall 2015.

“Vaguely reminiscent of Dorothy Parker’s darkly brilliant “Resumé.” Clarke, Brooke. Review of Aaron Poochigian’s Mr. Either/Or and Paradise Drive. Able Muse Review. Winter 2017, No. 24.


God, Seed (Tebot Bach Press 2010)

God, Seed is a book of environmental poetry with art by local artist Lorna Stevens.

God, Seed is lyrical, intense, and concerned with issues of our planet’s survival. Foust has a fierce yet loving attitude towards nature and human nature. Many of Foust’s luminous, insightful poems are paired with paintings by gifted artist Lorna Stevens. This is a book to read and treasure.” — Susan Terris

God, Seed, a beautiful mix of words and images…light and deep. Good for the eye, mind and heart.” — William Wiley

“Spring is springing as I experience what the author and artist have given me and I am moved to recollect, in tranquility, as the poet said, all the infinite gifts I’ve received and might yet find in the glorious world, both human and otherwise. Rebecca Foust and Lorna Stevens are to be congratulated and profoundly thanked. Made my day. So, thanks, and more thanks.” — William Kittredge, author of Hole in the Sky, The Willow Field, and Owning It All and producer of A River Runs Through It.

Available at SPD Books, Powells Books, Barnes and Noble, and other bookstores online.

All That Gorgeous, Pitiless Song 
(Many Mountains Moving Press, 2010)

All That Gorgeous, Pitiless Song brims with amplitude and vitality. By virtue of her unsentimental warmth of spirit, Foust brings to life an immense range of experience and feeling. This poet’s emotional intelligence correlates, too, with her formal skill, that unique talent for phrase and rhythm with which she makes a whole world palpable, from the hugest events that mark a life to those moments as subtle as ‘some nuance you knew once like breath.’ Rebecca Foust is a superb poet, and All That Gorgeous, Pitiless Song is a tremendous book.”  — Peter Campion

“Rebecca Foust moves us with passion and intelligence as she broods over what ‘divides false / from true.’ Her voice, attuned to beauty and hope though often engaged with the hard news of life, startles in its honest, unstinting inventiveness. She writes of generations, of hardscrabble origins, of striving against odds, of motherhood, nature, intimate triumphs and woes. This is poetry of the greatest promise, a book not to be missed.” — Barry Spacks

“I find the poems astonishingly strong and beautiful. It’s not common for me to find an unpublished collection of poems as good as this one.” — Susan Griffin

Available at SPD Books, Powells Books, Barnes and Noble, and other bookstores online.

 Mom’s Canoe (Texas Review Press, 2009)

Mom’s Canoe presents poetry about the Allegheny Mountain Region of western Pennsylvania, “in all its splendor and grief.” — Matthew Lippman

Candy Plant. Paper Mill. Strip Mine. In Mom’s Canoe, Rebecca Foust recovers “each loved thing lost, sieved/ with bitter salt and ash.” She holds local myths, fossil records, family lore and memory to the brutal and compassionate light of poetry. — Robin Becker

Dark Card (Texas Review Press, 2008)

Dark Card explores themes related to raising a child with Asperger’s Syndrome, a mild autism disorder.

“Fiercely smart and an absolute warrior, Foust’s intelligence and courage drive every difficult poem home.” — Molly Peacock

“These poems will break and heal your heart, their rage, hope, insight and love carried by a poetic power as targeted as a bullet-train.” — Barry Spacks