Melinda Palacio (SB 2023 Poet Laureate), 1st Place Poetry Winner Ryan Calkins, Bill Woodard, Principal Dos Pueblos High School. | Photo: Bonnie Carroll

Santa Barbara gained yet another artist recently — poet Ryan Calkins from Dos Pueblos High School and her poem “Peace in the Garden.” Calkins was awarded first place in the poetry section of the Santa Barbara Sister Cities Board 2023 Artists and Authors Showcase. Joining her in her accomplishments were second-place winner Brock Mitchell for his poem “I Am an Oak Tree” and third-place winner Penelope Walsh with her poem “Counting Pennies.” And of course the art winners: first-place winner Leighton Willow Smith, April Harper in second place, and Sebastian Cadwell in third.

Melinda Palacio (S.B. 2023 Poet Laureate), Ryan Calkins (First Place Poetry Recipient), Bill Woodard (Dos Pueblos High Principal), Lucile Vea (S.B. Sister Cities Board Vice Chair), Gil and Marti Garcia (S.B. Puerto Vallarta Sister Cities Board) | Photo: Bonnie Carroll

This year, the theme for the showcase was “Peace by Piece Food Security in my Community.” Assisted by the Children’s Creative Project (CCP), the contest was open to all artists and authors between the ages of 13 and 18. It brought together Santa Barbara’s finest young artists (along with artists from sister city Puerto Vallarta, Mexico), bringing awareness to food security and climate change in the world, and also promoted peace, respect, understanding, and cooperation across all communities.

With the poets judged by Santa Barbara Poet Laureate Melinda Palacio and S.B./P.V. Board Member Alicia Sorkin and the artists by S.B. artist, art teacher, and coordinator with Studio 121 Michael Long, the resulting winners were well-deserving and very talented. Calkins received her first-place prize on the lawn of Dos Pueblos, with her principal, Bill Woodard; Melinda Palacio; Santa Barbara Sister Cities Board Vice Chair Lucile Vea; and Gil and Marti Garcia, Santa Barbara Puerto Vallarta Sister Cities Committee board members, standing proudly at her side. 

For more information about Santa Barbara’s Sister Cities, click here.

The award-winning poem, “Peace in the Garden,” by Ryan Calkins | Credit: Courtesy


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