California Arts Council

State of California

California Community Poet Laureate Convening for National Poetry Month
Dozens of local entities in California have highlighted the importance of literary figures in their communities

Published: 03-21-2008

Over the past five years, a cultural phenomenon has occurred within California city and county government -- cities and other local entities have begun to officially appoint local Poets Laureate. There are now approximately 25 community-based Poets Laureate from California cities who will join the California Arts Council and California Poet Laureate Al Young to convene on April 2 and 3 in Sacramento and celebrate National Poetry Month in April 2008.

Events include evening readings, a meeting at the California State Library, and daytime readings at the state Capitol. Goals of the convening include the collection of information on how other cities and some counties recognize and employ the poets; promotion of the poetic art form on the state level; promotion of the literary arts for children and adults, as well as programs like Poetry Out Loud and California Story Slam; and to educate legislators and the public about the growth of local Poets Laureate as a cultural phenomenon in the state.

The Poets Laureate in local communities include:

Sandra Wade (past) and Mary McMillan (present), Lake County
Meredith Laskow, Placentia Library District
Geri Digiorno, Sonoma County
Mary Rudge, City of Alameda
Joel Fallon, City of Benicia
Diane Lando, City of Brentwood
Connie Post, City of Livermore
Sam Pierstorff, City of Modesto
Rod Clark, City of Pacifica
Garland Lee Thompson, Jr., City of Pacific Grove
Martha Meltzer, City of Pleasanton
Julia Connor, City/County of Sacramento
Dian Sousa, City of San Luis Obispo
Jack Hirschman, City/County of San Francisco
Perie Longo, City of Santa Barbara
Ursula T. Gibson, City of Sunland-Tujunga
David Smith-Ferri, City of Ukiah
Fionna Perkins, City of Point Arena
Patricia Perry, City of San Ramon

Vilma O. Ginzgerg, City of Healdsburg
Ruth Blakeney, City of Crockett
Dorothy Lee Hanson, Napa County

Members of the general public are welcome to attend public events, including:

-- Evening Reception for Poets Laureate on Wednesday, April 2, at the Fragrance Garden next to the California State Library at 10th and N Streets in downtown Sacramento ($15 covers the cost of dinner. Seating is limited, please RSVP to Sacramento Poetry Center director Bob Stanley at bobstanley@sbcglobalnet or 916-240-1897)

-- California Community Poets Laureate Conference (morning program) on Thursday, April 3, starting at 9:00 am at the Library and Courts Building at 901 Capitol Mall in downtown Sacramento;

-- California Community Poets Laureate Public Reading (midday) from 1:00-3:00 pm on Thursday, April 3, at the Capitol Foundation at 10th Street and Capitol Mall in downtown Sacramento.

The Community Poets Laureate will be available after the public reading at the Capitol Fountain to greet members of the public. For more information about these events, contact California Arts Council Arts Specialist Ray Tatar at 916-322-6395.

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