Rebecca Meredith has a long literary history in Redmond, and in her role as the city’s first poet laureate, she’s helping to shape its literary future, as well.
Over the last year, she has served as Redmond’s poet laureate, teaching workshops and giving readings in schools, at the , and at the openings of local live theatre performance, as well as organizing events such as the recent Found Poetry Contest that the city sponsored as part of .
“We were looking for things to do at Derby Days,” Meredith says, so the city’s arts department launched the contest inviting people of all ages to create poetry from words and phrases they cut out of other publications.
Meredith said that type of exercise is a great way to help people who don’t think they can write poetry to “kill the editor” and put words together creatively. The winning poems are posted here on the city’s website.
During her time as poet laureate, she’s been helping to map out the future of the new position as well so it will continue as a program that enriches the community.
“The point of my tenure was not only to serve, but to create the position, too,” Meredith said.
The position started in January of 2010 and was originally to be a two-year term, but it has been extended six months for the first term to allow completion of a project that will help Redmond celebrate its centennial next year.
“We’re trying to create, with the help of a number of poets, a representation of the city and its pioneering spirit,” Meredith said.
The project, she said, involves poets creating poems using old iconic images of Redmond as inspiration.
“It’s really nice to be able to use ‘the arts’ and not just poetry” for the project, she said.
Meredith, who lived in Redmond for 20 years before recently moving to Seattle’s Capitol Hill to accommodate her private psychology practice, was one of the first members of the , and served as the organization’s first president when it became a nonprofit. At the time, Meredith recalls, it was the only literary organization on the Eastside, though Seattle has long been well-known for spoken word poetry.
Meredith says that though she and her husband decided to move to Seattle after their two sons were grown, and she enjoys being near the Richard Hugo House and about “65,000 restaurants” that she can walk to, she remains very connected to Redmond. Her husband works here still, and Meredith says she often runs errands in Redmond because it still feels a lot like home.
Despite being a long-time Northwest resident, Meredith has a soft Southern accent that belies her origins in Pascagoula, Miss., about 20 miles from Biloxi. Those roots provided the context for Meredith’s first novel, The Last of the Pascagoula, which she self-published and launched on Sept. 11. More information about the book is available at www.thelastofthepascagoula.com.
The novel features several characters that have popped up in Meredith’s short stories and other works, she said, giving them a whole story set around a young girl who spends an important year in Pascagoula creating the family she doesn’t have, and her return years later.
“This book has a lot of the things I love, like outsider artists,” Meredith said, adding that she believes a lot of people who grew up in that much-changed part of the country have devoted time to writing about it in the years since Katrina to preserve it in some way.
Meredith says her life, though filled with writing and her active therapy practice, feels like a good balance to her right now.
Poetry and psychology are “actually very similar because you are talking about the subtext” of life, she said.