On November 18, 2008, the Board of Supervisors approved the establishment of the position of Santa Clara County Poet Laureate, to elevate poetry in the consciousness of Santa Clara County residents and to help celebrate the literary arts. SVCREATES administers this program in partnership with the Santa Clara County Library District (SCCLD).

The Poet Laureate will be an honorary two-year position. During that term, the Poet Laureate will act as an advocate for poetry, literature, and the arts; and contribute to Santa Clara County’s poetry and literary legacy through public readings and participation in civic events. The Poet Laureate also will propose and lead community projects.

The Poet Laureate will not be considered an employee of the County of Santa Clara and will continue to have individual pursuits.

Poet Laureate will serve from January 2020 – December 2021. Laureate will receive a modest stipend and an allocation for expense reimbursement.

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.

Duties of Santa Clara County Poet Laureate

  1. Represent Santa Clara County and the art of poetry through outreach related to poetry.
  2. Participate in up to five selected County-sponsored events, dedications, or memorials per year by selecting and presenting appropriate works.
  3. Act as a resource for poetry and literary activities of the Santa Clara County Library District.
  4. Lead and participate in National Poetry Month events and activities.
  5. 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 related to Poet Laureate events and projects.
  6. Contribute to the creation of a poetic identity for Santa Clara County.

Previous Poet Laureates

Five Poet Laureates 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.


All application materials will be submitted through the SVCREATES online application portal. Applicants will need to log in to set up an account and get started here.

Once you’ve entered the system, please review the complete application; detailed instructions are included in the application. Application requirements include: resume, proposed Poet Laureate project description and work samples. Letters of recommendation and reviews are optional. Applications for Santa Clara County Poet Laureate open on August 9, 2019. The deadline for applications is Friday, September 27, 2019 at 5:00 pm. Applications are reviewed by a panel of literary experts and finalists will be invited to an interview with a panel of County and community leaders. Interviews will be held in mid-late November.

Application Materials – some details:

Submit a current resume of professional activities and achievement (maximum of 4 pages). List in chronological format (not narrative). Include significant awards and training, selected exhibitions, performances, presentations and/or publications.
  • Poets must provide a list of publications indicating a minimum of three published works. MLA bibliography format is recommended. Click here for more details.
    • Book (of which you are the Single Author):
      Author. Title of Book. Publisher, Publication Date.
    • Poem in Anthology:
      Author. “Title of Poem.” Title of Book, Name of Editor, Publisher, Publication Date, Page number(s) of poem.
    • Magazine or Literary Journal:
      Author. “Title of Poem.” Title of Publication, Publication Date, Page number(s) of poem.
    • Online Journal:
      Author. “Title of Poem.” Title of Publication, website url.

Project Description

One of the duties of the Santa Clara County Poet Laureate is to “Undertake projects throughout the Santa Clara County community that will make poetry more available and accessible to people in their everyday lives.”

In the application, you will be asked to describe what type of project(s) you would like to do. How would the nature and significance of your approach to poetry impact or involve the community? What would be your timeline and what sorts of resources or collaborations would you be seeking?

Go to the Poet Laureate Website or blog to see past projects for inspiration: www.sccgov.org/poetlaureate and https://poetlaureateblog.org/.

Work Samples

POETRY: You may submit up to 10 poems that represent your best artistic achievements (Not to exceed 20 pages). Submit no more than 1 poem per page. All pages must include the title of poem, your name and page number, if appropriate, on each page.

PERFORMANCE: Performance poets may additionally provide links to recorded work samples. All samples must be hosted on online platforms, such as Soundcloud, Vimeo or YouTube.

If for any reason you are not able to submit application materials online, please contact Alyssa Erickson at SVCREATES to make other arrangements: alyssae@svcreates.org or 408-998-2787 x204.