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New City Poet Laureate, Enid Osborn

On April 11, the Santa Barbara City Council agenda includes the approval and installation of Enid Osborn as Santa Barbara’s next Poet Laureate. Osborn received numerous nominations from a diverse group of educational institutions, poets and local organizations; she has been active in the Santa Barbara literary community for nearly 30 years. Her work has been widely published in books, journals and anthologies. Osborn will serve in the role of the city’s Poet Laureate until April 2019. 

Beginning in April 2017, the Santa Barbara Public Library, which celebrates its centennial this year, will serve as the home of the Poet Laureate Position and Archive. 

Library Director Jessica Cadiente noted, “With words and rhythms, poets are our prophets and our believers, our advocates and our healers.  We are thrilled to welcome Enid Osborn and we look forward to working with her to create and facilitate new programs that will bring poetry to a wider audience.” 

In partnership with the library, the city and the Office of Arts & Culture, the Poet Laureate will offer complementary programs and even a blog. Community Relations Librarian Jace Turner, along with Arts Advisory Members Elizabeth Owen and Marylove Thralls, served on a nominating committee with sitting Poet Laureate Sojourner Kincaid-Rolle. The subcommittee made a formal recommendation to the City Arts Advisory Committee, which voted unanimously to recommend Ms. Osborn.

Ms. Owen, who served as Chair of the Poet Laureate Selection Committee, praised Ms. Osborn’s fitness for the role. “Enid writes wonderfully vivid, emotional poems that evoke a unique sense of place. Her poems are accessible and inclusive, appealing to a wide audience. She is well known in the local poetry community for hosting and organizing poetry events. By all accounts she has a particularly graceful presence, is a gifted public speaker and interpreter of poems. Her readings are inspiring and she is adept at networking, organizing events and bringing people together.”

Mayor Helene Schneider shared her confidence in the 2017 Poet Laureate recommendation from the City Arts Advisory Committee, “I welcome Enid Osborn as the city’s newest Poet Laureate who is joining an amazing group of poets, all who have elevated the spoken word at various events these last 12 years on behalf of the city of Santa Barbara.”

Of the appointment, Ms. Osborn states, “It’s an honor to be chosen Poet Laureate of Santa Barbara. I see this as recognition of my work thus far, and a call to service that I take much to heart. I hope to be an energetic ambassador for poetry and the many gifted poets in our area, including quieter voices we may not have heard. I am proud to join the ranks of distinguished past laureates who have given—and continue to give—so generously. And what a fine thing to partner with our library—the very heart of Santa Barbara literary life!  I have some good ideas and look forward to working with our great, arts-loving city and county over the next two years.”

Ms. Osborn's book of poems released in 2015 by Big Yes Press, “When The Big Wind Comes,” set in Southeast New Mexico, “begins as a road-trip to the poet’s hometown and becomes a journey through childhood, a soul-wandering among elementals— the forces that carve us, land and storm and kin…” writes Marsha de la O, author of “Antidote for Night.”

In 2011, Osborn co-edited and co-published the anthology “A Bird Black as the Sun: California Poets on Crows & Ravens” with Yucca Valley poet Cynthia Anderson. The celebrated anthology features the work of 80 California poets—both living and bygone. Osborn has self-published a series of themed chapbooks, titled “Worm Lore,” “Ring of Sun: Poems and Stories,” “The Burden of Decency,” “Witness,” “Queen in Exile,” “Milagro” and “Pedregosa St.” Her poem “The Place of Loss" was nominated for a Pushcart Prize, and she received a Billee Murray Denny award for her sound poem “Flax Sun,” a paean to running horses. 

The City of Santa Barbara established a position of Poet Laureate in 2005 in order to direct proper attention and honor to literary arts by utilizing poetry to celebrate and elevate community events.  Since the establishment of the position the city has been remarkably fortunate of have six exceptional Poets Laureate Emeriti—the late Barry Spacks, Perie Longo, David Starkey, Paul Willis, Chryss Yost and Sojourner Kincaid-Rolle. All have served to engage the community in greater appreciation for poetry, and have enhanced our experience of community events and celebrations.

The public is invited to join the city in celebrating National Poetry Month at the April 11 City Council meeting and public installation ceremony scheduled for 2 p.m. at City Hall. For information on the City Poet Laureate Program or citywide Poetry Month Programs, contact the Office of Arts & Culture at (805) 568-3992 or visit

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