Remembering Mary Rudge, Alameda’s Poet Laureate
Elizabeth Pelaéz Norris, chair of the Modern Languages Department at SJND and a published poet, shares this appreciation of Mary Rudge, who was instrumental in supporting student poets at SJND.
When I saw Mary Rudge, the renowned poet laureate of Alameda, on January 18, little did I know it would be the last time I would speak with her. When I learned of her death the following day, a deep sense of loss washed over me.
Mary loved the SJND community. She attended every Prisms literary magazine reading and luncheon we invited her to. She would notify me of local and state poetry contests, benefiting nearly three dozen students a year who have won contests, read their own poetry or were published. Mary was instrumental in Prisms receiving a Book Award from Artists Embassy International, presented at the Palace of the Legion of Honor last September. She proudly used to bring copies of Prisms to local and international conferences.
Mary also started the High School Poet Laureate Program. In its first year, Sarah Su ‘10 was named Alameda’s High School Poet Laureate. Since then, the SJND title has gone to Tia Gangopadhyay ’11. Robin Levy ’13 and Amelia Khoo ’14.
Mary inspired our budding poets who basked in her praises, and it was she who urged me to publish my poetry collection, Inner Voices, and even wrote the introduction. Thank you, Mary, “for poetry always.”