Who Will Be the New Poet Laureate for California? You Can Help Decide

California Arts Council accepting recommendations through July 25 for California’s advocate for the art of poetry

SACRAMENTO — The official nomination and application process for the next California Poet Laureate is now open. Complete details are available here. The submission deadline is July 25, 2018. Poets may self-nominate, or be nominated by experts in the field of literature.

The role of the California Poet Laureate is to spread the art of poetry from classrooms to boardrooms across the state, to inspire an emerging generation of literary artists and to educate all Californians about the many poets and authors who have influenced our great state through creative literary expression.

The Poet Laureate provides public readings in urban and rural locations across California, educates civic and state leaders about the value of poetry and creative expression, and undertakes a significant cultural project, with one of its goals being to bring poetry to students who might otherwise have little opportunity to be exposed. The Poet Laureate serves for a term of two years upon Senate confirmation, and may serve up to two terms.

The official position of California Poet Laureate was established in 2001. The state’s current poet laureate is Dana Gioia, who has served as “poetry’s public servant” since his appointment by Governor Jerry Brown in December 2015. Gioia’s appointment was confirmed by the California State Senate on August 8, 2016. During his tenure, Gioia has traveled the length of the state, with the goal of celebrating poetry and creativity as California’s first Poet Laureate to visit all 58 counties. As of this release’s publication, just six counties remain unvisited. More information on Dana Gioia’s work as California Poet Laureate can be found here.

The California Arts Council manages the California Poet Laureate nomination process for the Office of the Governor, in accordance with the law. After a call to the general public for nominations, applications are reviewed and evaluated by a panel of knowledgeable and experienced California poets who are identified in consultation with representatives of literary organizations, universities, and other experts in the field. Nominees are ranked according to the review criteria: recognition for excellence of their work; being known for a significant body of published work; having wide consideration as a poet of stature; and willingness to undertake a specific project that shall last through the term, agreed to by the California Poet Laureate and the Arts Council.

The names of the top three nominees are sent to the Governor’s office for additional vetting. The Governor makes the final selection and names the California Poet Laureate, who must be confirmed by the Senate.

Questions about the nomination process and application information should be directed to poetlaureate@arts.ca.gov.

For more information on the history and process of the California Poet Laureate position, visit http://arts.ca.gov/initiatives/pl.php.

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