The Silicon Valley Voice

Power To Your Voice

Local Poets May Now Apply for Honorary Santa Clara County Poet Laureate Post

The Santa Clara County Library District and County of Santa Clara, in partnership with SVCREATES, has opened the application process for selecting the 2020–2021 Santa Clara County Poet Laureate — the Poet Laureate is an honorary post. The selected poet’s role is to elevate the awareness of Santa Clara County residents around poetry and to help celebrate the literary arts. The application deadline is Sept. 27, 5 p.m.

“The Santa Clara County Poet Laureate represents the County in its celebration of the literary arts, creating interest and engagement with poetry enthusiasts and a deeper appreciation for poetry in our community,” said County of Santa Clara Supervisor Mike Wasserman, Chair of the County Library District JPA Board. “We encourage poets throughout the County to apply for the 2020-21 Santa Clara County Poet Laureate post and look forward to continuing this tradition that has engaged poetry followers of diverse ages and backgrounds.”

The honorary post of Santa Clara County Poet Laureate was created by the County of Santa Clara Board of Supervisors on Nov. 18, 2008. The County works in partnership with SVCREATES to identify a nominee, who is then appointed by the Board of Supervisors to fill the two-year post.


Five Poets Laureate have served to date: Nils Peterson (2009-2011), Sally Ashton (2011-2013), David Perez (2014-2015), Arlene Biala (2016-2017) and currently Mike McGee (2018-2019).

During his tenure, among several projects, Peterson created a 100-line poem called “A Family Album, Santa Clara County, 2009.”  Ashton led several projects as well and notably created “Poetry on the Move” that put poetry on VTA railcars and buses.  Perez focused on youth arts education and outreach, teaching a poetry workshop series at elementary, middle and high schools and introducing poetry to the public via a Poetry Booth at high profile public events. Biala led numerous poetry workshops and has brought a pop-up PoeTREE to many events and public spaces, encouraging people of all ages to write lines or short poems.

In his present term, Mighty Mike McGee works with youth to inspire the next generation of poets through teen poetry slams, youth writing workshops and even youth open mic events.  He is also active in open mic poetry and literature events for all ages.

Eligibility Criteria for the Santa Clara County Poet Laureate

  • The Poet Laureate will be available to serve a two-year term
  • The individual will be a current Santa Clara County resident who has resided in the County for the past three years and has been published or recognized for poetry and literary contributions
  • The individual’s poetic interests respond to, or represent, the diversity of arts and cultures in Santa Clara County
  • The individual has demonstrated a commitment to and passion for poetry and embraces the opportunity to engage in civic discourse
  • The Poet Laureate will not be considered an employee of the County of Santa Clara and will continue to have individual pursuits.

Duties of Santa Clara County Poet Laureate

  • Represent Santa Clara County and the art of poetry through outreach related to poetry
  • Participate in up to five selected County-sponsored events, dedications, or memorials per year by selecting and presenting appropriate works
  • Act as a resource for poetry and literary activities of the Santa Clara County Library District
  • Lead and participate in National Poetry Month events and activities
  • Undertake projects throughout the Santa Clara County community that will make poetry more available and accessible to people in their everyday lives. Actively participate in social media activity to update the public on Poet Laureate events and projects
  • Contribute to the creation of a poetic identity for Santa Clara County
  • The Poet Laureate will receive a modest honorarium.

The selection process will be administered by SVCREATES.  Applications will be peer-reviewed by established poets by October 2019.  Interviews with finalists will be conducted and completed in November 2019.  The recommended Poet Laureate will be announced at a meeting of the Board of Supervisors in January 2020.

All application materials will be submitted through SVCREATES online grant portal:  If you need special accommodation for application submission outside of the online submission process, please contact Alyssa Erickson at SVCREATES: or 408-998- 2787, ext. 204.

You can find information about past Poet Laureate winners at


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