The City of Santa Barbara Poet Laureate Program was established in 2005 to inspire and remind the local community of the power and beauty of poetry and the spoken word.

The Poet Laureate is a local resident and distinguished poet tasked with seeking to advance awareness of and appreciation for literary arts and humanities within the greater Santa Barbara community. The Poet Laureate represents and celebrates the diversity and history of Santa Barbara. As a spokesperson for the City’s literary community, the Poet Laureate shall endeavor to promote the artistic achievements of the City of Santa Barbara and shall actively participate in ceremonial, educational, and cultural activities in the community at various times throughout his or her term of service.

The next Poet Laureate will be selected in April of 2019 and nominations will begin January 2019.

Current Poet Laureate

2017-2019 Enid Osborn

Past Poets Laureate

2015-2017 Sojourner Kincaid Rolle

2013-2015 Chryss Yost

2011-2013 Paul Willis

2009-2011 David Starkey

2007-2009 Perie Longo

2005-2007 Barry Spack


Poetry Out Loud (POL) is an extraordinary opportunity for high school students to learn great poetry, perform it, and win prizes – including a trip to Washington D.C. for the California State Champion to compete in the national finals. POL is a free program that helps students master public speaking skills, build self-confidence, learn about their literary heritage, and compete for college scholarship funding. Nationwide, Poetry Out Loud has grown every year with millions of students participating across the country. California features the largest, most exciting competition of all!


The structure of Poetry Out Loud is similar to a spelling bee. This annual program starts in the fall with high school teachers using the free Poetry Out Loud teacher toolkit and related materials to teach poetry recitation and run classroom competitions. Poetry Out Loud does not require full class periods and can be completed in 2-3 weeks.

Following a pyramid structure, five winners from each school-wide competition will advance to a county-side competition.  County winners are treated to an unforgettable two days at the California Poetry Out Loud State Finals in Sacramento on February 28 and 29, 2016. The State Finals competition is usually held in the historic Senate Chamber (legislative calendar permitting) and is webcast and televised via the California Channel. The county champions are honored with a dinner reception and each receives a certificate of recognition from their legislative representative.

At the state level, one winner will be selected to represent California in the national competition. The California State winner receives:

$200 cash prize and an all expense paid trip to Washington, D.C.

$500 for their school to purchase literary materials

An opportunity to compete at the National Finals for college scholarship funds
The National Finals in Washington D.C. will be May 2-4th, 2016. Check out poetryoutloud.org for detailed information.


Schools, teachers, parents, and students can reach your county POL representatives here. Any public or private high school in the state is welcome and encouraged to participate. Homeschooled students may participate by joining in a registered high school's competition or by organizing a contest with other homeschooled students. Poetry Out Loud is accessible to students with disabilities. Teachers are encouraged to involve all students in Poetry Out Loud activities and can learn more about POL accessibility here.


The 2015-16 CA POL Teacher and School Registration Form should be completed once by the designated Lead Teacher for each school, and after consultation with County Coordinators to determine the best School Finals Competition date.

Completion of this form is required for participation in the official California Poetry Out Loud program and must be submitted prior to December 31, 2015.

Find complete information on Poems & Performance, Teaching Resources, and the Competition at poetryoutloud.org.


2011 Poetry Out Loud State Finals