Apply to be Berkeley’s poet laureate. During their two-year term, poet laureates champion the literary arts, collaborate with and mentor fellow artists, and perform public readings.
The City of Berkeley’s poet laureate program honors a Berkeley-based poet, spoken word, or other literary artist to serve as a creative ambassador of the city. This is a joint program of Civic Arts and the Berkeley Public Library.
The purpose of the Poet Laureate program is to:
- champion Berkeley’s rich poetry, spoken word, and literary arts communities;
- honor a Berkeley poet to serve as a creative ambassador of the city;
- have the poet serve as an aesthetic voice and collaborator with the broader arts community;
- provide mentorship to burgeoning literary artists;
- and continue Berkeley’s historic tradition of Free Speech.
Applications open once every two years
To be eligible, you must be a Berkeley resident and at least 18 years old. Youth poets can apply to be Berkeley Public Library’s Youth Poet Laureate.
A panel of experienced literary artists selected by Civic Arts will review submissions and select finalists. The panel will interview the finalists in order to appoint the Poet Laureate.
The panel will base their selection on set criteria, including literary practice and experience, cultural equity, community and civic engagement, service to the field, and performance and presence.
Role and expectations
Over the course of a two-year service term, the Poet Laureate receives a $10,000 honorarium. The Poet Laureate is required to complete an original poem inspired by or related to Berkeley, coordinate at least two public readings, recite poems at City or Berkeley Public Library events, and act as mentor for Berkeley’s Youth Poet Laureate.
Past poet laureates
- 2017 – 2022: Rafael Jesús González
On Being Named Poet Laureate of Berkeley / Siendo nombrado Poeta Laurado de Berkeley