Announcing Call for Poet Laureate Applications


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The Santa Barbara County Office of Arts and Culture, in partnership with the City of Santa Barbara, is seeking applications for the position of Santa Barbara Poet Laureate for the 2023-2025 term. Deadline to submit applications is 5 p.m. on Friday, February 24, 2023. For more information about the application and selection process, visit www.sbac.ca.gov/poet-laureate

The selected poet shall seek to advance awareness of, access to, and appreciation for poetry, spoken word, self-expression, and the literary arts within the greater Santa Barbara community.

As both a local resident and a civically engaged poet, the Poet Laureate shall uplift the artistic achievements of the City and local communities through active participation in ceremonial, educational, and/or cultural activities. To the extent possible, the Poet Laureate will also promote community awareness of the literary arts and encourage community members to develop their own creative interests. The Santa Barbara Public Library, a department of the City of Santa Barbara, serves as the office of the Poet Laureate and is a major partner in the stewardship of the program.

Poets with diverse backgrounds, especially those from historically marginalized communities, are encouraged to apply.

Current Poet Laureate Emma Trelles’s term concludes in March 2023. In 2022, the Academy of American Poets named Emma Trelles a Poet Laureate Fellow, recognizing Trelles’s work as a poet and commitment to making poetry accessible to the community. The award enabled Trelles to further develop the Mission Poetry Series, support the Gunpowder Press Alta California Chapbook Prize, and work with the Library to host free poetry workshops and events, including its upcoming Poetry Walks.

“It’s been an honor to serve our Santa Barbara community through poetry. The idea that poems are also a gathering place where everyone can both speak and listen to one another is at the center of my own writing and teaching practice,” Trelles noted. “I feel lucky to live in a city that values the art of language and how it can transform us in ways that fuel compassion and friendship. What I’ll remember most about my poet laureateship are the open-hearted people I’ve met, worked with, and learned from. It really has been an extraordinary experience.”

The city’s Poet Laureate is an honorary position established in 2005. The individual selected will serve a two-year term commencing in April 2023, for which they will receive a $2,000 honorarium to encompass all civic and official work performed or produced in the position. The Laureate may also be offered the opportunity to receive an additional stipend for serving as a ‘Poetry Out Loud’ Mentor.

As a spokesperson for the City’s literary community, the Poet Laureate shall endeavor to promote the artistic achievements of the City and actively participate in ceremonial, educational and cultural activities in the community at various times throughout their term of service. The Poet Laureate also works with the Library to offer public programming.

“Santa Barbara Public Library is thrilled to partner with Poets Laureate to encourage creative expression and facilitate community connection through interactive programming that makes the literary arts more accessible to the community,” said Santa Barbara Public Library Director Jessica Cadiente.

Laureates Emeriti include:

  • Laure-Anne Bosselaar (2019-21)
  • Enid Osborn (2017-19)
  • Sojourner Kincaid Rolle (2015-17)
  • Chryss Yost (2013-15)
  • Paul Willis (2011-13)
  • David Starkey (2009-11)
  • Perie Longo (2007-09), and
  • Barry Spacks (2005-07)

For more information, visit www.sbac.ca.gov/poet-laureate.

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