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Paul Willis to Host Final Events as Santa Barbara’s Poet Laureate

Paul Willis, a professor of English at Westmont College, will host the winter reading of the Santa Barbara Poetry Series from 7 to 8:15 p.m. this Saturday, Feb. 23, at the Contemporary Arts Forum, 653 Paseo Nuevo.

Paul Willis
Paul Willis

Poets Kyli Sessions, Kurt Brown and Catherine Abbey Hodges will read selected works of their poetry. The event is free and open to the public.

“This is a 20-year-old tradition in Santa Barbara, featuring both local and visiting poets,” Willis said.

Sessions, an aspiring poet from Seattle, will graduate in May with a bachelor’s degree in English from Westmont. In the fall of 2011, she interned in San Francisco with 826 National, a nonprofit that seeks to integrate creative writing into urban education.

She spent last summer teaching poetry to local youth on the Westside of Santa Barbara, and compiled their whimsical poems in an exclusive literary journal, The Talking Brain.

Hodges, a Santa Barbara native, is a professor of English at Porterville College. She is the author of All the While, a chapbook published by Finishing Line Press. Her poems have appeared in print and online venues, including The Southern Review, Verse Daily, Christian Century, Canary and Into the Teeth of the Wind.

Brown, founder of the Aspen Writers’ Conference (now the Aspen Writers’ Foundation), has authored six chapbooks and six full-length collections of poetry, including his latest, Time-Bound from Tiger Bark Press. He is currently an editor for the online journal MEAD: The Magazine of Literature and Libations and has edited 10 anthologies of poetry.

Willis will host the spring reading of the series at 7 p.m. Saturday, April 6 at the CAF, ending a two-year term as Santa Barbara poet laureate. The reading will feature his successor, who will be named in late March and installed by the Santa Barbara City Council on April 2.

— Scott Craig is the media relations manager for Westmont College.

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