SBPL & the Mission Poetry Series Team Up to Host a Poetry Walk

woman standing on state st with poetry

By partnering with local organizations, Santa Barbara Public Library is able to offer a wide array of free cultural and educational programs to the community. Santa Barbara has a thriving poetry community, and SBPL works with many organizations and the local literary community to make poetry more accessible to the community. SBPL has a longstanding partnership with the Mission Poetry Series (MPS) to provide poetry readings and workshops by a diverse group of poets from across the globe. The Mission Poetry Series supports emerging and established authors with paid readings and an opportunity to reach a devoted audience. The readings feature two to three multicultural poets, and MPS also creates Readers Broadsides, the original and complementary poetry broadsides distributed at every reading. 

In 2021, Emma Trelles, curator of the Mission Poetry Series, was appointed the 9th Santa Barbara Poet Laureate. As home of the SB Poet Laureate, SBPL had the opportunity to further this collaboration with Trelles on innovative ways to celebrate poetry in the community when Trelles was awarded a 2022 Poet Laureate Fellowship by the Academy of American Poets. The Fellowship includes a $50,000 award to honor poets of literary merit appointed to serve in civic positions and to enable them to undertake meaningful, impactful, and innovative projects. 

In October 2022, SBPL and the Mission Poetry Series offered a free, virtual poetry workshop titled, "What Makes a Poem Sing, Fly, and Move the Reader More Deeply," taught by Luisa A. Gloria, emeritus Poet Laureate of Virginia and award-winning author. Participants examined how poems are built and considered "the possibility for transformation, like a moment of grace." Ten of the poems written in the workshop were formatted in a design created by the library, blown up to poster-size, and printed on large sidewalk signs. These poems were displayed as a Poetry Walk along State Street during Downtown Santa Barbara’s January Fitness Fest Block Party. Community members visiting the Library on the Go van got to read the Poetry Walk poems, meet the poets and Santa Barbara Poet Laureate, Emma Trelles, check out books of poems, and connect with other writers. Some of the poets read their poems aloud to a small audience. Poetry Walks can facilitate community connections and create unique experiences  for readers to engage with poetry and local poets. Stay tuned for more SBPL Poetry Walks popping up around town!