Paul Willis, City Poet Laureate 2011-13.

The selection of the Poet Laureate is timed to coincide with the recognition of April as National Poetry Month. The position of Poet Laureate was established in 2005 as an honorary position by the City Arts Advisory Committee with Santa Barbara City Council approval. Since that time the greater Santa Barbara community has greatly benefitted from the talents and efforts of its Poet Laureates, Barry Spacks, Perie Longo, David Starkey and most recently Paul Willis. Each through their dedication and service has increased awareness of the literary arts and energized community engagement and creativity. When asked about the experience of serving as Poet Laureate Paul Willis, a professor at Westmont College had this to say. “I have found the poet laureate position to be what Raymond Carver would call a small, good thing. It has been a privilege to help others in our community leap up or relax into the comfort of language. My hat is off to our City Council for embracing the play and power of words, and my hat is off once again to the many worthy nominees who will surely emerge to carry on our laureate tradition.”

Nominations for the Poet Laureate position will be reviewed by the Poet Laureate Search Committee which is made up of members of the City of Santa Barbara’s Arts Advisory Committee, Visual Arts in Public Places Committee, a City Council liaison, and an at-large member selected from the Santa Barbara literary community. In March, the Poet Laureate Search committee will make its recommendation to City Arts Advisory Committee for an approved recommendation to be sent to Santa Barbara City Council for approval. The individual selected for 2013 will serve a two-year term, commencing in April when current City Poet Laureate Paul Willis’s term ends. Suzanne Fairly-Green chair of the committee expressed thanks to Paul Willis for his talent, time and dedication over the past two years stating, “His wisdom, humor and marvelous poetry have benefited us all.”

Three of Santa Barbara’s past Poet Laureates in a photo taken for California Arts Day 2009. From left, Barry Spacks, 2005-2007; Perie Longo, 2007-2009; and Poet Laureate David Starkey, 2009-2011.

The Deadline for Nominations is February 20, 2013. Santa Barbara Poet Laureate nominations may come from any organization or individual. Self-nominations however will not be accepted.

Nominations must be sent to the Santa Barbara Poet Laureate Review Committee C/O the Santa Barbara County Arts Commission, Post Office Box 2369, Santa Barbara, CA 93120 or hand-delivered to the Arts Commission office, at the County Courthouse, 3rd Floor Rotunda Tower located at 1100 Anacapa Street in Santa Barbara during business hours and prior to 5pm February 20, 2013. Material submitted will not be returned.

For further information on the Santa Barbara Poet Laureate nomination process, guidelines with information on eligibility, review criteria and requirements of the Poet Laureate position please visit our website or call the Santa Barbara County Arts Commission at 805.568.3990.


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