Whereas Enid Osborn, Santa Barbara’s outgoing poet laureate, radiates calm and tranquility even in the midst of chaos, her successor, Laure-Anne Bosselaar, is a whirlwind of energy and passion.
The Belgian-born Bosselaar moved from New York to Santa Barbara in 2010 with her late husband, the much-beloved Kurt Brown. The couple wanted to be closer to her daughter in Los Angeles, and after considering Ojai, Ventura, and Malibu as possible homes, Laure-Anne and Kurt decided on Santa Barbara, in part because the city’s lively poetry community. “There’s a generosity and willingness to work together in our poetry community that I am most grateful for and hope to further develop,” Bosselaar said.
Bosselaar already has several projects she would like to accomplish, including editing a poetry anthology by poets of Santa Barbara and environs, which would be “distributed where, usually, one wouldn’t expect to find a book of poems … and I’ll leave it at that: The rest will be a surprise.” She also hopes to offer free poetry workshops and classes in collaboration with the Santa Barbara Public Library. Another ambition “is to bring a little more visibility to the Santa Barbara Poetry Fund — and help this fund grow — so that we can then afford to invite more poets from all venues in America to visit our lovely town to give readings and talks.”
Bosselaar was the unanimous selection of the Arts Commission’s nominating committee, and she had wide support among poets, among them several past poets laureate. Osborn called Bosselaar a “widely published, award-winning poet of national status, who is also a mentor in her bones. Extremely well-read, she rides the cutting edge of poetry today, and is an esteemed colleague of the decorated poets of our times.” Perie Longo, Santa Barbara’s second poet laureate, noted that “Laure-Anne has graced our poetry community with her masterful poetry and teaching, vast knowledge of the craft, enthusiasm for all things poetic, friendship, and a generous heart. We are blessed to have her light in our midst.”
Not everyone, of course, is a fan of poetry. When asked how she might overcome that obstacle, Bosselaar responded with characteristic enthusiasm: “Many people too often believe they ‘don’t understand’ poetry, or that’s it’s ‘not for them.’ My biggest ambition is to be able to change the minds of as many future poets and poetry readers as possible — from the very young to their grand- and great-grandparents! If I can do that, my two-year tenure as poet laureate will not have been in vain.”