Ina Coolbrith (the first name comes from her nickname Josephina) was writing poetry before reaching her teen years. She was 14 when one of her poems first saw print. After a young marriage ended in divorce, she found her way to San Francisco, and there met literary figures of the west like Ambrose Bierce, Bret Harte, Joaquin Miller, and even Mark Twain. When she became a librarian, she turned her library into a sort of literary salon and meeting place — her home was used in a similar way.
In 1915, Coolbrith was named the first Poet Laureate of the state of California. Her poem "I Can Not Count My Life a Loss" (1881):
I can not count my life a loss,
With all its length of evil days.
I hold them only as the dross
About its gold, whose worth outweighs;
For each and all I give Him praise.
For, drawing nearer to the brink
That leadeth down to final rest,
I see with clearer eyes, I think;
And much that vexed me and oppressed,
Have learned was right, and just, and best.
So, though I may but dimly guess
Its far intent, this gift of His
I honor; nor would know the less
One sorrow, or in pain or bliss
Have other than it was and is.