San Francisco Taking Applications for Next Poet Laureate

Typewriter with Poetry buttons, vintage style

Typewriter with Poetry buttons, vintage style (Graphic: iStock)

Do you have what it takes to be the next San Francisco Poet Laureate?

Mayor Ed Lee and the SF Poet Laureate Nominating Committee put out a call Thursday for nominations to the post.

Candidates have to meet a daunting set of standards; they must have published “one full length book (minimum 48 pages, not self-published or vanity press) and/or professional digital recording of performance with text (not self-produced) or 20 or more published poems in established publications, print or online, over the past five years.”

That line knocking vanity presses is just cruel.

The nominee must also be a city resident. What poet can still afford to live in San Francisco?

Beat survivor Lawrence Ferlinghetti inaugurated the post.

Alejandro Murguía is the current Poet Laureate, the first Latino to hold the position. He’s written four books of history, short stories, and poetry in Spanish and English. He gave a speech recalling that the first time he was paid for a reading, he got two beers, but one was thrown at him.

San Francisco's current poet laureate  Alejandro Muguira
San Francisco’s current poet laureate Alejandro Muguira (Photo Credit: SF Public Library)

Here’s an excerpt from his poem “O California”:

Se fueron por el Camino Real

Ese largo y triste camino de eucaliptos

Cargados con frijol y maíz

Y llegaron en lowered-down Chevy ranflas

Con gafas fileros y tomando botellas de tequila

Que decían Made in Mexico

Hablando tres palabras de inglés

Apple pie y coffee

Y cantando—

Vámonos a California Vámonos a California

The new laureate will be judged worthy by a panel of their peers on the selection committee, including former laureates Jack Hirschman and Janice Mirikitami.

There is an honorarium. The public library, which runs the program, pays a $5,000-stipend.

If you think you have what it takes, here’s the link to the application. The deadline is April 17.

San Francisco Taking Applications for Next Poet Laureate 22 February,2016Cy Musiker


Cy Musiker

Cy Musiker co-hosts The Do List and covers the arts for KQED News and The California Report.  He loves live performance, especially great theater, jazz, roots music, anything by Mahler. Cy has an MJ from UC Berkeley’s School of Journalism, and got his BA from Hampshire College. His work has been recognized by the Society for Professional Journalists with their Sigma Delta Chi Award for Public Service in Journalism. When he can, Cy likes to swim in Tomales Bay, run with his dog in the East Bay Hills, and hike the Sierra.

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