The selection of the poet laureate is timed to coincide with the recognition of April as National Poetry Month.
The position of poet laureate was established in 2005 as an honorary position by the Arts Advisory Committee with Santa Barbara City Council approval. Since that time, the greater Santa Barbara community has greatly benefited from the talents and efforts of its poet laureates — Barry Spacks, Perie Longo, David Starkey and, most recently, Paul Willis. Each through their dedication and service has increased awareness of the literary arts and energized community engagement and creativity.
“I have found the poet laureate position to be what Raymond Carver would call a small, good thing,” said Willis, a professor at Westmont College. “It has been a privilege to help others in our community leap up or relax into the comfort of language. My hat is off to our City Council for embracing the play and power of words, and my hat is off once again to the many worthy nominees who will surely emerge to carry on our laureate tradition.”
Nominations for the poet laureate position will be reviewed by the Poet Laureate Search Committee, which is made up of members of the Santa Barbara Arts Advisory Committee, Visual Arts in Public Places Committee, a City Council liaison and an at-large member selected from the Santa Barbara literary community. In March, the Poet Laureate Search Committee will make its recommendation to the Arts Advisory Committee for an approved recommendation to be sent to Santa Barbara City Council for approval.
The individual selected for 2013 will serve a two-year term, commencing in April when Willis’ term ends. Suzanne Fairly-Green, chair of the committee, expressed thanks to Willis for his talent, time and dedication over the past two years.
“His wisdom, humor and marvelous poetry have benefited us all,” Fairly-Green said.
The deadline for nominations is Feb. 20. Poet laureate nominations may come from any organization or individual. Self-nominations, however, will not be accepted.
Nominations must be sent to the Santa Barbara Poet Laureate Review Committee c/o the Santa Barbara County Arts Commission, P.O. Box 2369, Santa Barbara, CA 93120, or hand-delivered to the Arts Commission office at the County Courthouse, third-floor Rotunda Tower at 1100 Anacapa St. in Santa Barbara during business hours and prior to 5 p.m. Feb. 20. Material submitted will not be returned.
Click here for more information on the Santa Barbara poet laureate nomination process, guidelines with information on eligibility, review criteria and requirements of the poet laureate position, or call the Santa Barbara County Arts Commission at 805.568.3990.
— Ginny Brush is executive director of the Santa Barbara County Arts Commission.