The Santa Barbara County Arts Commission and city Arts Advisory Committee announced this week that nominations are being sought for Santa Barbara’s next poet laureate.


Chryss Yost, Santa Barbara poet laureate for 2013-15. (Photo courtesy of Chryss Yost)

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 city 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, the late Barry Spacks, Perie Longo, David Starkey, Paul Willis and most recently Chryss Yost. Each through their dedication and service has increased awareness of the literary arts and energized community engagement and creativity.

When asked about the experience of serving as poet laureate, Yost, who works at UC Santa Barbara, had this to say: “I loved the opportunity to celebrate our community’s accomplishments with poetry — the renewed Chromatic Gate, the New Vic, the Cater Water Treatment Facility and dedication of the Cota Sycamore to Huell Howser are just a few highlights. It is an honor to follow in the footsteps of poets I admire and help to establish new traditions.”

Mayor Helene Schneider had this to say about the poet laureate search: “I’m thrilled that the City of Santa Barbara is entering its 10th year celebrating the literary arts with our poet laureate program. We’ve been blessed with five incredible, and very different, poets laureate and I can hardly wait to find out who will next wear the laurel wreath.”

Nominations for the poet laureate position will be reviewed by the Poet Laureate Search Committee, which is made up of members of the City of Santa Barbara’s 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 city Arts Advisory Committee for an approved recommendation to be sent to Santa Barbara City Council for approval.

The individual selected for 2015 will serve a two-year term, commencing in April when Yost’s term ends. Marylove Thralls, chair of the committee, expressed thanks to Yost for her talent, time and dedication over the past two years.

“She has helped to firmly establish the role of poet laureate as a valued resource for our community,” Thralls said. “When ‘mere’ words are not enough, we turn to those who uplift and illuminate through the gift of their poetry.”

The deadline for nominations is Feb. 20. Santa Barbara 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.

For further information on the Santa Barbara poet laureate nomination process, guidelines with information on eligibility, review criteria and requirements of the poet laureate position, click here or call the Santa Barbara County Arts Commission at 805.568.3990.

— Lyn Semenza represents the Santa Barbara County Arts Commission.