Yes, it's a little bit of a surprise that Emeryville, a town that many Bay Area residents probably associate with the massive yellow-and-blue Swedish furniture store adjacent to the MacArthur Maze, has a poet laureate.
But in the interest of enriching the local cultural landscape, the city created such a position. And a couple years ago, Sarah Kobrinsky, a Winnipeg native who came to Emeryville by way of Fargo, North Dakota, was appointed to the position.
"Wherever I've lived, I've loved to connect somehow to the artistic community and to play a part in that," Kobrinsky says. "I like to bring people together and organize events and make things happen."
Kobrinsky's day job is helping run her family's small ceramics business. She applied for the poet laureate's post after she saw a posting on a local bakery bulletin board. In addition to writing poetry for community events, she conducts workshops for residents and has started a project to distribute poems on the Emery-Go-Round, the city's shuttle bus service.
But now, Emeryville's poet laureate, whose verse touches on subjects like the town's long-vanished Native American shellmounds and the presence of that big Swedish furniture store, can no longer afford to live there.