Help wanted: Next California poet laureate

Seeking the best and brightest California poets

Help wanted: California poet with stellar resume. Apply within.

The California Arts Council is now accepting nominations for California poet laureate. The poet laureate serves a two-year term and is asked to perform public readings, undertake a significant cultural project and engage civic leaders on the subject of poetry and creative writing.

The state's most recent poet laureate was Juan Felipe Herrera, a child of migrant farmworkers who is now an award-winning poet and professor at UC Riverside. He traveled the state during his term to read his own work and listen to others reading their poetry. "Everywhere I go I feel it," he told The Times. "People are ready to open a door they haven't opened. People feel that they need to say something that's very deep for them or very playful for them, or very serious, or that makes them angry."

California's first poet laureate took the position a century ago, in 1915. Ina Donna Coolbrith, a San Francisco librarian, writer and editor, served until her death in 1928. Other poets laureate of the state include Carol Muske-Dukes, John Steven McGroarty and Charles Garrigus, whose term lasted a whopping 34 years.

People seeking the poet laureate position should be a poet of significance; have a strong record of publishing; received prior awards; and, of course, live in California.

Nominations can be made online or via mail; the nomination period continues through April 10. Nominations are vetted by a peer review panel at the California Arts Council. The poet laureate will be appointed by the governor and confirmed by the state Senate for a coming two-year term.

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