Board of Supervisors Appoints Tshaka Campbell as 2022-23 Santa Clara County Poet Laureate

He becomes the seventh person to serve in this honorary role

SANTA CLARA COUNTY, CA. — The Board of Supervisors for the County of Santa Clara today appointed San José resident Tshaka Campbell to the honorary post of Santa Clara County Poet Laureate for a two-year term ending Dec. 31, 2023.

“Poetry inspires us, as well as sheds light upon the emotional side of the human condition,” said County Librarian Jennifer Weeks. “The Library is a repository for the written word as well as a public space for poets to perform their work and future poets to learn the art form. We look forward to hosting poetry events with Tshaka during his term as County Poet Laureate.”

Campbell is the curator of “Beautiful Black Books” as part of Poetry Center San José. He also conducts lectures, workshops in creative writings, spiritual verse, and other related topics. He is a talented poet, author, and musician.

“Words hold great power to entertain, to inform, and to help us grow,” said Supervisor Mike Wasserman, President of the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors and Chair of the Library Joint Powers Authority Board. “The County of Santa Clara welcomes our new Poet Laureate and we look forward to the important contributions he brings to inspire a love and appreciation for poetry in our communities.” 

Campbell was recommended to the Board following the call for applications, and a two-step review process organized by the County of Santa Clara, Silicon Valley Creates (SVCreates), and the Santa Clara County Library District (SCCLD). 

“SVCreates is a proud partner in Santa Clara County's Poet Laureate program and has been since its inception. This is one of several SVCreates programs that highlight the importance of the arts in our community and works to ensure access to arts experiences for all in our county,” said Connie Martinez, Chief Executive Officer of Silicon Valley Creates. “We are thrilled that Tshaka Campbell has been selected this year to demonstrate the power of poetry and its relevance to contemporary lives.”  

Campbell has authored four books (Tarman, Muted Whispers, Tunnel Vision and Stuff) and released three music albums (One, Bloodlines, and Skin vol.1). Campbell has collaborated on a number of musical projects in the House, Jazz, and Blues genres, as well as appeared in national commercials. 

“I am standing on the shoulders of those who have held the post in the past, so I am both honored and humbled to be chosen”, said Campbell.

Campbell is the seventh poet laureate to be appointed by the County of Santa Clara Board of Supervisors. Nils Peterson was the County’s first Poet Laureate (2009-2011), followed by Sally Ashton (2012-13), David Perez (2014-2015), Arlene Biala (2016-17), Mike McGee (2018-19), and Janice Lobo Sapigao (2020-21). 

Campbell looks forward to implementing multiple programs aimed at spreading and socializing the impact of poetry within our communities. One of these initiatives, "In Our Words", will invite local youth/students to write poems that capture the impact the last two years have had on them. Their work will be published in an anthology and displayed at select installments around the county.

A presentation will take place at 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday, February 8 during the Board of Supervisors’ meeting to formally introduce Campbell. He will read a selection of his work as part of the invocation. 

Alyssa Erickson, Silicon Valley Creates, (408) 998-2787 x204
Diane Roche, Santa Clara County Library District, (408) 293-2326 x3080