California Arts Council

State of California

California Poet Laureate Nominations Considered on May 10
Recommendations of panel of literary experts will go to Governor

Published: 05-05-2011

Literary experts in California will meet in Sacramento on Tuesday, May 10, to review applications for the position of California State Poet Laureate and make recommendations to the Governor. The panel process starts at 10:00 a.m. and is expected to end at 2:00 p.m. The panelists will select the top three candidates for California Poet Laureate, and the California Arts Council will submit those three names to the Governor, who will make the final decision. The California Poet Laureate's two-year term begins upon Senate confirmation.

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 position of California Poet Laureate was established in 2001, and the California Arts Council is designated to recommend individuals to the Governor for the position of Poet Laureate. The Governor chooses the Poet Laureate, and the Senate approves the appointment.

Over the course of a two-year term, the California Poet Laureate provides six public readings in urban and rural locations across the state, educates civic and state leaders about the value of poetry and creative expression, and undertakes a significant cultural project. One of the goals of the project must be to bring the art of poetry to students who might otherwise have little opportunity to be exposed to it. The Governor has the option of reviewing all the nominations as well as additional California poets.

Panelists include: 

Carol Muske-Dukes
Carol Muske-Dukes is the current poet laureate of California and author of books of poems, novels and essays.  Her eighth book of poems,Twin Cities, will be published later this month by Penguin and a book-length "conversation" poem (with 54 American poets) that she co-edited with Bob Holman, Crossing State Lines: an American Renga--is just out from Farrar, Strauss & Giroux.  She has been a National Book Award finalist,a New York Times Most Notable Book author and recipient of many awards, including a Guggenheim, NEA, and Dylan Thomas poetry award.  She is a professor of English/Creative Writing at the University of  Southern California, where she founded the PhD program in Creative Writing/Lit.  She writes for the New York Times, Los Angeles Times and Huffington Post. Her website is

Al Young
Widely translated and acclaimed, Al Young's 22 books include poetry (Something About the Blues: An Unlikely Collection of Poetry, Coastal Night and Inland Afternoons: Poems 2001-2006, The Sound of Dreams Remembered: Poems 1990-2000, Heaven: Poems Collected 1956-1990), fiction (Seduction By Light, Sitting Pretty, Who Is Angelina?), and musical memoirs (Mingus Mingus: Two Memoirs, Drowning in the Sea of Love, Kinds of Blue, Things Ain't What They Used to Be, Bodies & Soul.) From 2005 through 2008, he served as California Poet Laureate. Other honors include NEA, Fulbright, and Guggenheim Fellowships. Jazz Idiom: The Jazz Photography of Charles L. Robinson (Heyday Books) received the 2009 PEN/Oakland Award. The Sea, The Sky, And You, And I, a poetry & jazz CD (featuring bassist Dan Robbins), came out in 2009 from Bardo Digital. Al Young  is currently the Visiting Writer at California College of the Arts, San Francisco. Full information about this Berkeley-based author may be found at

Lorna Dee Cervantes
Lorna Dee Cervantes is an award-winning Chicana-Native American poet who is considered one of the major Chicana poets of the past 40 years. She has been described by Alurista, as "probably the best Chicana poet active today." Lorna Dee Cervantes was born in 1954 in California. She grew up in San Jose, speaking English exclusively. This was strictly enforced by her parents, who allowed only English to be spoken at home by her brother and her in order to avoid the racism that was occurring in her community at that time. Lorna Dee Cervantes was an associate professor at the University of Colorado at Boulder until 2007. She terms herself "a Chicana writer, a feminist writer, a political writer." Her three collections of poetry, Emplumada, From the Cable of Genocide, and Drive: The First Quartet are held in high esteem and have attracted numerous nominations and awards.

The public may attend and listen to the panel recommendations; contact Kristin Margolis at 916-322-6555 or

For more information on the California Arts Council and the California Poet Laureate, please go to and

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