Santa Clara County Opens Search for Next Honorary County Poet Laureate

Person Chosen will Serve January 2022 through December 2023


SANTA CLARA COUNTY, CALIF.—The Santa Clara County Library District and County of Santa Clara, in partnership with SVCREATES, announced the opening of the application process today for the position of Santa Clara County Poet Laureate for 2022-2023. The Poet Laureate is an honorary post whose responsibilities are to elevate the awareness of Santa Clara County residents around poetry, and help celebrate the literary arts. The application deadline is September 24, 2021, 5:00 p.m.

“While we may be known worldwide for Silicon Valley and technology, the Santa Clara County Poet Laureate is a great example of our vibrant artistic community with influences from cultures across the globe,” said Jennifer Weeks, County Librarian for the Santa Clara County Library District. “The 2022-23 Santa Clara County Poet Laureate will help grow the awareness and participation in poetry and the arts while making their own mark on the local poetry scene.”

The honorary post of Santa Clara County Poet Laureate was created by the County of Santa Clara Board of Supervisors on November 18, 2008. The County and County Library District work in partnership with SVCREATES to identify a nominee, who is then appointed by the Board of Supervisors to fill the two-year post. Six Poets Laureate have served to date: Nils Peterson (2009-2011), Sally Ashton (2011-2013), David Perez (2014-2015), Arlene Biala (2016-2017), Mike McGee (2018-2019), and the current title holder, Janice Lobo Sapigao.

Sapigao has led online poetry writing workshops on mental health for teens, aimed at helping them cope with the stress of the COVID-19 pandemic. She has also actively represented the County in the world of the arts, including lending her voice to celebrations of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month and drawing attention to social justice topics that intertwine with the arts and conversations happening in the creative community. Sapigao was a 2020 Poet Laureate Fellow with the Academy of American Poets and used fellowship funding to create the first Santa Clara County Youth Poet Laureate Program.

Eligibility Criteria for the Santa Clara County Poet Laureate

  • The Poet Laureate will be available to serve a two-year
  • 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
  • The individual has demonstrated a commitment to and passion for poetry and embraces the opportunity to engage with the community through the arts.

The Poet Laureate will not be considered an employee of the County of Santa Clara and will continue to have individual pursuits. They will be expected to attend several key poetry-related events across the County, which will be shared by SVCREATES and County staff.

Duties of Santa Clara County Poet Laureate

Undertake projects throughout the Santa Clara County community that will make poetry more available and accessible to people in their everyday lives, including:

  • Design and lead events and participate in activities in Santa Clara County for National Poetry Month (coordinating with Poetry Center San Jose). Must include some activities outside of the City of San Jose.
  • Act as a resource for poetry and literary activities of the Santa Clara County Library District, including readings, presentations, and workshops. Up to 25 hours per year, in coordination with and supported by SCCLD staff.
  • Participate in readings and speaking engagements for the County Board of Supervisors, other County departments, Santa Clara County cities, and other community events. May include selecting and presenting appropriate works at dedications, or memorials. Up to 25 hours per year, as determined and scheduled through SVCreates. 
  • Attendance at SVCreates board meetings, serving as ex-officio special assignment to SVCreates board. Five meetings per year.
  • Serve as a judge for the Poetry Out Loud County finals, coordinated through SVCreates.
  • Readings/events for the local community as designed by and at Poet Laureate’s discretion, in collaboration with Poetry Center San Jose. Minimum of two per year.
  • Actively participate in social media activity related to Poet Laureate events and projects.

The Poet Laureate will receive a stipend of $4,000 per year, which will be used to compensate their time to fulfill the duties listed above, plus a budget of $1,000 per year for reimbursable expenses related to their activities.

The selection process will be administered by SVCREATES. Applications will be peer-reviewed by established poets by October 2021. Interviews with finalists will be conducted and completed in November 2021. The recommended Poet Laureate will be announced at a meeting of the Board of Supervisors in January 2022.

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