A journalist with articles featured in Smithsonian, the Los Angeles Times, and the San Francisco Chronicle, among others, Aleta George discusses Ina Coolbrith: The Bittersweet Song of California's First Poet Laureate.
In post-Gold Rush San Francisco, Ina 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 met with 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. 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. 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 Ina Coolbrith its first poet laureate in 1915 during San Francisco's Panama-Pacific International Exposition, and 2015 marks the centennial of her being named California's beloved first lady of letters. Aleta George writes about nature and culture in California. Her work has been featured in Smithsonian.com, the San Francisco Chronicle, and the Los Angeles Times. This is her first book. "Telling Coolbrith's story, author Aleta George offers an intriguing glimpse of fin de siecle California and the rousing, sometimes rowdy adolescence of our nation." -Gerald Haslam, award-winning author and professor emeritus, Sonoma State University "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 "Coolbrith's life is so captivating that it has been waiting not just for another biographer, but for a first-rate storyteller." - David Alpaugh, Ina Coolbrith Circle"