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) and Poetry Center San José.

The Poet Laureate is an honorary two-year position, in service to the community. The Poet Laureate will be formally appointed by the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors, acting on a recommendation determined through an artistic and community panel selection process coordinated by SVCREATES.

During their 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 will not be considered an employee of the County of Santa Clara and will continue to have individual pursuits.

The next Poet Laureate will serve from January 2024 – December 2025 and will receive a stipend of $6,000 per year, with a budget of $1,000 per year for reimbursable expenses related to their activities. In addition, the Poet Laureate may have the opportunity to publish a chapbook through Poetry Center San José.

Eligibility Criteria for the Santa Clara County Poet Laureate

The Poet Laureate program is a program of the County of Santa Clara, overseen by the Santa Clara County Library District (SCCLD) and administered by SVCREATES. County requirements include:

  • 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 with the community through the arts.
  • All finalists will be asked to complete a customized background check administered through SCCLD, to be eligible to work with minors. For more details, see the FAQs in the sidebar to the right or contact Alyssa Erickson with questions or concerns: alyssae@svcreates.org

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:

  1. Design and lead events and participate in activities in Santa Clara County for National Poetry Month (coordinating with Poetry Center San José). Must include some activities outside of the City of San José.
  2. Act as a resource for poetry and literary activities for the Santa Clara County Library District, including readings, presentations, workshops. Up to 25 hours per year, in coordination with and supported by SCCLD staff.
  3. 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 dedication, or memorials. Up to 25 hours per year, as determined and scheduled through SVCREATES.
  4. Attendance at SVCREATES board meetings, serving as ex-officio special assignment to SVCREATES board. Five meetings per year.
  5. Serve as a judge for the Poetry Out Loud county competition, coordinated through SVCREATES.
  6. Readings/events for the local community as designed by and at Poet Laureates discretion, in collaboration with Poetry Center San José. Minimum of 2 per year.
  7. Actively participate in social media activity related to Poet Laureate events and projects.

Previous Poet Laureates

Five Poets Laureate have served to date: Nils Peterson (2009-2011), Sally Ashton (2011-2013), David Perez (2014-2015), Arlene Biala (2016-2017), Mighty Mike McGee (2018-2019), Janice Lobo Sapigao (2020-2022), and Tshaka Campbell (2023-2024).

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. Mighty Mike McGee worked with youth to inspire the next generation of poets through teen poetry slams, youth writing workshops and youth open mic events. He was also active in open mic poetry and literature events for all ages. Janice Lobo Sapigao became a Poet Laureate Fellow with The Academy of American Poets and used fellowship funding to create the first Santa Clara County Youth Poet Laureate Program. Tshaka Campbell conceived and produced “Bringing the Light,” a series of initiatives to uplift youth poets, through the publication of an anthology, projections in public spaces and postings on VTA trains.

To Apply:

For your convenience, a PDF of the complete application is available for download here and in the sidebar to the right. However, 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, work samples, and ideas for community engagement. Letters of recommendation and reviews are optional.

Applications for Santa Clara County Poet Laureate open on August 11, 2023. The deadline to submit applications is Friday, September 22, 2023 at 5:00 pm.

If for any reason you are not able to submit application materials online, please contact Alyssa Erickson at SVCREATES prior to the submission deadline to make other arrangements: alyssae@svcreates.org

Review Process:

Applications will be reviewed by a panel of literary professionals from the greater Bay Area, based on artistic merit and commitment to engagement with the local/Santa Clara County Community. Selected finalists will be invited for an interview with program stakeholders, including SVCREATES, Santa Clara County Library District, and Poetry Center San José.


Application opens: August 11, 2023
Application Deadline: September 22, 2023
Application Review: October 2023
Finalist Interviews: November 2023
Poet Laureate Announcement: January 2024


Application opens: August 11, 2023
Application Deadline: September 22, 2023
Application Review: October 2023
Finalist Interviews: November 2023
Poet Laureate Announcement: January 2024

January 2024 - December 2025

Alyssa Erickson
408-998-2787 x 204