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Posted on 03.26.2013 7:33 p.m.

Santa Barbara Selects Chryss Yost as Next Poet Laureate

Source: Linda Gardy for the Santa Barbara County Arts Commission

The Santa Barbara City Council on Tuesday approved the appointment of Chryss Yost as the city’s next poet laureate.

Chryss Yost (George Yatchisin photo)
Chryss Yost (George Yatchisin photo)

Yost has been active in the Santa Barbara literary community for 15 years. She is nationally as well as locally recognized as a poet, editor and teacher and has received significant awards and honors.

She will be officially installed at the April 9 City Council meeting at City Hall and will serve in the role of the city’s poet laureate until April 2015.

This is a fitting occasion to take place in April, which has been designated a National Poetry Month by the Academy of American Poets and celebrated as such since 1996. The entire month will be filled with myriad readings and events throughout the city all celebrating poetry.

The City of Santa Barbara established a position of poet laureate in 2005 in order to direct proper attention and honor to the spoken word by utilizing poetry to celebrate and elevate community events. Since the establishment of the position, the city has been remarkably fortunate of have four exceptional poets laureate emeriti — Barry Spacks, Perie Longo, David Starkey and Paul Willis. All have served to engage the community in greater appreciation for the spoken word, and have enhanced our experience of community events and celebrations through their poetry.

“I am so pleased that the city’s poet laureate program has been both popular and successful throughout the community these past eight years, and I look forward to hearing our fifth poet laureate, Chryss Yost, inspire us with her words on behalf of the City of Santa Barbara,” Mayor Helene Schneider said.

Of her new role as poet laureate, Yost said, “Santa Barbara’s poetry community has been a tremendous source of fellowship to me through the years. It’s an honor to be part of it. Poetry requires a close attention to words and a respect for their meanings. Because poetry’s language is the language of empathy, poems can help us understand and communicate with each other in new ways. The more options we have for sharing ideas, the more those ideas can expand. I feel poetry can help us become a stronger and more united community, and I look forward to finding opportunities to bring more poetry to Santa Barbara.”

Since 1997, Yost’s poems have appeared in selected poetry anthologies, journals and magazines. She has edited a number of poetry books, including California Poetry: From the Gold Rush to the Present, with Dana Gioia and Jack Hicks (Heyday Press, 2003) and Poetry Daily: A Year of Poems for the World’s Most Popular Poetry Website, with Don Selby and Diane Boller (Sourcebooks, 2003). Yost has a full-length manuscript, TBD: Poems soon to be released by Red Hen Press, which is among the top rated poetry publishers in the nation.

Yost has been a lecturer at UCSB’s College of Creative Studies, publications manager at the Center for Black Studies Research at UCSB, a Poet-in-Residence for California Poets in the School Program, is on the faculty for Santa Barbara Music & Arts Conservatory working with gifted teens and is host of Library Radio, a weekly broadcast on KCSB for writers, readers, and researchers. In the last eight years, Chryss has been instrumental in helping shape Santa Barbara’s April Poetry Month by compiling and creating the annual poster that lists all the independently organized events in one place.

A brief reception for the new city poet laureate will take place at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 9 in the mayor’s office on the second floor of City Hall prior to the City Council meeting. For more information, contact the Santa Barbara County Arts Commission at 805.568.3992 or by clicking here.

— Linda Gardy represents the Santa Barbara County Arts Commission.

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