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March 25, 2011 > Sally Ashton named as new Poet Laureate

Sally Ashton named as new Poet Laureate

Submitted By Gwendolyn Mitchell and Laurel Anderson

The Santa Clara Board of Supervisors appointed Sally Ashton to the honorary post of Santa Clara County Poet Laureate. Ashton was recommended to the Board following the call for applications and a two-step review process organized by the County and Arts Council Silicon Valley.

"Sally Ashton brings a wealth of creative experience to the post of Poet Laureate," said Liz Kniss. "She will do a fine job in helping to make poetry accessible to the community."

Ashton is a poet, writer, teacher and editor of the "DMQ Review," an online journal featuring poetry and art. She is the author of Some Odd Afternoon (BlazeVOX, 2010) and a prose poem collection, Her Name Is Juanita (Kore Press, 2009). Both books received Pushcart Prize nominations. These Metallic Days was published in 2005 as part of Main Street Rag's "Editor's Choice Chapbook Series." Poems also appear in "An Introduction to the Prose Poem," and "Breathe: 101 Contemporary Odes," as well as journals such as "Sentence: A Journal of Prose Poetics," "5am," "Mississippi Review" and "Poet Lore."

"What an honor to be given this opportunity. As Poet Laureate, I look forward to building on the success of Santa Clara County's first Poet Laureate, Nils Peterson, to work with the community of local poets and also to engage people who may lack an appreciation of poetry's significance to life in Silicon Valley today," Ashton said. "I'm excited to be working to promote poetry as a part of our lives in Santa Clara County."

In 2006, Ashton produced and directed the first "California Poets Festival" for Poetry Center San Jose at History Park, and a second NEA-sponsored festival in 2007, with more than 200 in attendance. She earned her MFA from Bennington Writing Seminars and teaches creative writing and composition at her alma mater, San Josˇ State University, as well as through a variety of workshops. She is the recipient of an Artist Fellowship, Poetry, from Arts Council Silicon Valley.

Ashton will take the two-year post on April 1, 2011, the first day of National Poetry Month. She is the second poet laureate to be appointed. Nils Peterson was appointed on March 24, 2009 to a two-year term that expires on March 31, 2011.

The poet laureate post, approved by the Board in November 2008, was advocated by Supervisor Liz Kniss in an effort to Santa Clara County residents' awareness of poetry and to help celebrate the literary arts. The Poet Laureate acts as a resource for poetry and literary activities to the Santa Clara County Library, represents Santa Clara County through outreach related to poetry, conducts presentations of appropriate works at the annual State of the County ceremony and other selected County-sponsored events, as well as at activities to celebrate Poetry Month.

"The Arts Council is honored to be an integral part of the selection process for the Santa Clara County Poet Laureate program," said Nancy Glaze, Interim Executive Director of Arts Council Silicon Valley. "We're certain that Sally will bring her own inspirational voice and perspective to this important role. We would also like to thank Nils Peterson for his creative leadership and energy as the first Poet Laureate in this County."

The Poet Laureate will receive a modest honorarium.

To learn more about the Poet Laureate program, go to

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