Who We Are
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River of Words Advisory Council
Robert Hass, co-chair
River of Words judge, advisor, and co-founder, and former U.S. Poet Laureate, Bob is the author of several books of poems, including Field Guide (1973), Praise (1979), Human Wishes (1989), and Sun Under Wood: New Poems (1996); and a collection of essays, Twentieth Century Pleasures: Prose on Poetry (1984). His poetry collection Time and Materials (2007) won the National Book Award for poetry and the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for poetry. His awards include the Yale Younger Poets Award, the William Carlos Williams Award, the National Book Critics’ Circle Award for criticism in 1984, an Award of Merit from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Fellowship. A professor of English at the University of California at Berkeley since 1989, Bob served from 1995 to 1997 as Poet Laureate of the United States and as consultant in poetry to the Library of Congress. He is a graduate of Saint Mary's College.
Christopher Sindt is Vice Provost for Graducate and Professional Programs at Saint Mary's and was director of the College’s Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing program for seven years. Sindt has a doctorate in English and a master's degree in creative writing from UC Davis. His book The Bodies was published by Parlor Press in 2011 and his poetry chapbook, The Land of Give and Take, was published in 2002 and his poetry has recently appeared in nocturnes, Pool, Swerve and Xantippe.
David Wood has worked for more than 25 years as an English teacher at Northgate High School in Walnut Creek, currently serving as department chair. He received a distinguished teacher award from Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington, in 2002. He was a member of the board of the Aurora Theatre in Berkeley from 1998 to 2007 and served as board president from 1999 to 2001. He received an undergraduate degree from Yale University and a master of arts in teaching (MAT) in English education from the University of Chicago. Mr. Wood is also a director of the Wood Foundation of Chambersburg, PA.
John Muir Laws
River of Words art judge, Naturalist, educator and artist John (Jack) Muir Laws delights in exploring the natural world and sharing this love with others. Laws has worked as an environmental educator since 1984 in California, Wyoming, and Alaska. He teaches classes on natural history, conservation biology, scientific illustration, and field sketching. He is trained as a wildlife biologist and is an associate of the California Academy of Sciences. In 2009, he received the Terwilliger Environmental Award for outstanding service in Environmental Education. He is a 2010 TogetherGreen Conservation Leadership Fellow with the National Audubon Society. He was the 2011 artist for International Migratory Bird Day. Laws has written and illustrated books about art and natural history including The Laws Guide to Drawing Birds (2012), Sierra Birds: a Hiker's Guide (2004), The Laws Guide to the Sierra Nevada (2007), and The Laws Pocket Guide Set to the San Francisco Bay Area (2009). He is a regular contributor to Bay Nature magazine with his "Naturalists Notebook" column. His illustrations are informed by extensive field experience and capture the feeling of the living plant or animal, while also including details critical for identification. Laws is deeply committed to stewardship of nature and collaborates with organizations throughout the state. He is the founder and host of the Bay Area Nature Journal Club. A free, family friendly, intergenerational community who connect with nature through art and field journaling. He is the primary author and editor of the California Native Plant Society Curriculum: Opening the world through Nature Journaling. This standards based, curriculum is kid tested and teacher approved and integrates science, language arts, and visual arts through teaching students to keep a nature journal. He initiated Following Muir's Footsteps, an educational program to engender passionate love of nature, personal understanding of natural history and commitment to stewardship. This program gets students out in the field, learning from their own observations and using field guides and nature journals as the basis for discovering nature around them. As a part of this project, he is working secure funding to donate sets of field guides to every middle and high school in the Sierra Nevada.
Leonore Wilson has long taught English and creative writing at various colleges and universities in the San Francisco Bay Area. Her new book of poetry is Western Solstice (Hiraeth Press). Her poetry, stories and essays have been featured in such magazines as Quarterly West, Madison Review, Laurel Review, Pif, and Third Coast. She has won fellowships to the University of Utah and Villa Montalvo Center of the Arts. Her work has been nominated for four Pushcart awards. Leonore lives on her historic family cattle ranch in the east hills of the Napa Valley. She is the mother of three grown sons.
In addition to serving as the climate change information officer for the California Air Resources Board, Mr. Young is an author and journalist who has written books and articles on environmental subjects. As communications director of the California Resources Agency, the umbrella state agency for natural resources and environmental management, he oversaw the internal and external communications of 28 departments, boards, commissions, and conservancies and managed a budget of $5 billion and a staff of more than 14,000. Later, as director of marketing for Jones & Stokes, he oversaw communications and branding for this environmental consulting firm of 500 professionals with offices in seven states. He is currently the climate change information officer for the California Air Resources Board. A Commonwealth Scholar who attended universities in Canada, Israel, and England, Stanley has also worked as a modern dancer, yoga teacher, and chef, and was a field officer in a Cambodian refugee camp.