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Santa Barbara Poet Laureate Program

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Santa Barbara Public Library is home of Santa Barbara’s Poet Laureate. By partnering with the Poet Laureate and Santa Barbara County Office of Arts & Culture, SBPL is able to offer a wide array of free poetry readings, writing workshops, and related events to Santa Barbara’s thriving poetry community. SBPL also collaborates with organizations and members of the local literary community committed to creating free programming that makes poetry and other literature more accessible to readers and writers of all ages.

Just a few of the library’s ongoing and past partnered poetry and literary programs:

Local Author Day
Santa Barbara Poetry Series 
Tuesday Poets at the Library
Mission Poetry Series
“Guess Who’s in Town Reading”
Big Enough for Words
Poetry Walks
PlayFest


Santa Barbara’s current Poet Laureate - Melinda Palacio (2023-2025)

Melinda Palacio

Photo of Melinda Palacio by Nell Campbell.

Santa Barbara Is a Poem
Inaugural Poem by Melinda Palacio, Santa Barbara’s Poet Laureate

One winter she shows off like a child playing dress up in a white cape.
From the ocean, admire her gentle powdered peaks, a rare dusting.
Rejoice as water droplets turn to hail, to snow, a rarity in Atzlan.
Chumash land impossible to reach when mud or fire threatens.

Evergreen Pear blossoms fall like feathers, peaceful and soft.
A slight breeze on a Jacaranda and it rains purple. Add leaves,
golden hands, sometimes, bright red, and it’s a fiesta, nature’s party.
Coast Live Oaks grow twisted, rooted like guardian angels. In the wind
King Palms sway, drop fruit from a canopy of prickly crowns.

A blessing, shrouds of gray clouds hide the sky and I
put hands in the earth, pull weeds and prune roses.
Stay still as a rufous hummingbird motors past my ear.
Walk at dusk and the moon rises over Sycamore Canyon.
Wait for the twinkling. Greet the Archer and Seven Sisters.

Santa Barbara eres un poema.

Speaking Spanish in Santa Barbara means home,
negates every time someone has told me to go back where I came from.
I was born in this Golden State, 100 miles south of this paradise.

Santa Barbara, you are a poem.

It’s easy to want it all in this idyllic land.
In my neighborhood known as San Roque, fruit
rolls down: limes, oranges, persimmons, avocados
course around a cul-de-sac, named Lucinda.
When I meet her, the woman named after the street,
she offers me flowers.

My neighbor calls to her young daughter, tells her to bring
a sprig of rosemary from the box marked free, a year-round bounty.
An abundance of treasures from the land soured
by our inability to provide an Eden for all:
Housing, mental health services, jobs
for all who flock to this land we call home.

Santa Barbara is a poem.

To read more about Santa Barbara’s Poet Laureate program and see a list of past poets laureate visit the Santa Barbara County Office of Arts & Culture.