Call for Nominations for LA’s Next Poet Laureate

Saturday, February 21, 2019

The Department of Cultural Affairs has released the following announcement. Since it appears to be a public document, I am posting it in its entirety on this blog.


The Honorable Eric Garcetti, Mayor of the City of Los Angeles, is pleased to announce the continuation of the City of Los Angeles Poet Laureate Program, which is managed as a partnership between the Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA) and the Los Angeles Public Library (LAPL).

The City seeks to name one Poet Laureate to serve as an official ambassador of LA’s vibrant creative scene, promoting the City’s rich literary community and celebrating the written word. Applications are due by Monday, March 9, 2020.

The Los Angeles Poet Laureate will be contracted by DCA and receive a $10,000.00 annual fee. After the services of the first year are completed, a review of the contract will be conducted by the DCA, LAPL, and the Mayor’s Office to determine if the Poet Laureate has successfully completed the terms and responsibilities of their contract. If so, a second year agreement for another $10,000.00 contract will be considered and offered.

Further information on eligibility requirements, duties of the Poet Laureate, instructions how to nominate yourself or another poet, and the two-step selection process can be found here:

Questions about the application process should be addressed to the DCA Grants Office at or by calling 213.202.5566.

Department of Cultural Affairs
Grants Administration Division
tel – (213) 202-5566

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I wish to commend the Mayor’s Office, the Los Angeles Public Library, and the Department of Cultural Affairs for adding the following task to the Poet Laureate’s duties.

“Write one or more commemorative poem(s) each year related to a theme or topic integral to Los Angeles. Use the premiere of this/these poem(s) as a way to announce an open-call to all regional poets (emerging and masters, living or working in LA City) to submit poems for placement on sidewalks, streetlights, or related design-sites. Poet Laureate shall rank no less than 15 poems each year for use by the City on plaques, banners, or typographic displays for purposes of creative-placemaking. These poems shall be ranked in descending order and available to be integrated into/onto public surfaces in the two years following their selection by the Poet Laureate and submission to DCA.”

The requirement will be a means by which the L.A. Poet Laureate can remind people — and especially themselves — of how many other very fine poets are working in this region. It is all too easy for a laureate to succumb to delusions of supreme talent, when their work is in fact no more than simply representative of a vast effort by numerous comrades.

I do have one question, though: are the poets whose work will be used for “creative placemaking” supposed to allow their work to be used without the slightest compensation whatsoever? Do they not receive at least a copy of the banner or plaque on which their poem appears? If so, who does the work of packaging and mailing this material? Or is this yet another “little task” that will be an additional increment of underpaid work by the laureate?

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