Emma Trelles | Credit: Regina Reese

The Academy of American Poets recently named Santa Barbara Poet Laureate Emma Trelles as one of the 22 awarded 2022 Poet Laureate Fellows, which includes a $50,000 award to honor poets of literary merit appointed to serve in civic positions and to enable them to undertake meaningful, impactful, and innovative projects.

Trelles — the ninth poet laureate of Santa Barbara and the first Latina appointed to this post — is understandably excited about the award. “I’m just deeply honored and thrilled and humbled that they would invest in my creative and community work,” she said of the honor, which she will use to further develop the Mission Poetry Series and have the series poets conduct four, free, seasonal community poetry classes in conjunction with the Santa Barbara Public Library. 

One poem written by each class participant will be selected to be published and publicly displayed in an outdoor poetry walk at the library’s branches and local schools. 

“The poems become a kind of stand-up artwork that folks can read and engage with in our public spaces. It’s a way for people to creatively express themselves and also learn about each other,” Trelles explained. 

“The next poetry walk will feature the poems of all the youth poets (ages 14-19) who sign up for our upcoming September 3 workshop, ‘Poetry as a Portal to Imagining Worlds,’ taught by poet and author Crystal AC Salas, who was a co-winner last year of the Alta California Chapbook Prize by Gunpowder Press.” Trelles will also use the award to continue to fund/develop the Gunpowder Press Alta California Chapbook Prize in 2022–23. Open to all Latinx poets in California, the prize amplifies and honors the voices of Latinx writers and their communities through publication in bilingual editions, a $250 honoraria, ten copies of their chapbook, and an invitation to read at the Mission Poetry Series.

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