The Next Poet Laureate?

fountain-pen-1851096_1920Back in early March, I attended the Ravenswood Poetry Series. After listening to D. A. Powell read his beautiful, lyric work, we broke for a brief intermission.

Kay Speaks, a local poet, greeted me as I nibbled on a cookie. She asked if I was going to replace Kevin Gunn as Poet Laureate.

“What?” I said, spluttering crumbs.

“His term ends in June.”

“I know that,” I stuttered. “But….” I had been about to say, I’m not a poet, and caught myself. After publishing a book of poetry, that excuse no longer worked—even if I still defined myself mostly as a writer of creative nonfiction.

“What about you?” I said. “You could apply.”

She shook her head. “I’m no good at stuff like that. But you’d be awesome.” Kay leaned closer. “If no one applies, I’m worried Livermore will lose its program. That’s what happened in Dublin and Pleasanton.”

With a start, I realized she was correct. Dublin had been without a Poet Laureate for years. Pleasanton’s program had quietly slipped into obscurity the past year.

“You’re already doing so much for the literary community. You might as well get some credit for it.”

“I don’t know, Kay. I’m not sure I have the time.”

“I’d help,” she said. “Cher would too.”

explorer-gear-377x269-300x214Cher, a former Poet Laureate, now served on the Livermore Commission for the Arts. I wondered if she had put Kay up to this.

“At least consider it,” Kay pleaded.

I said I would as we headed backs to our seats.

After the event, Cher confirmed that the Commission would soon begin its selection process. “Kay’s right,” she said. “You’d be great.”

Was it my imagination or did she seem relived?

When I came home and mentioned this exchange to Nate, who’d been working with Katie while I was gone, stuffing branches into the green waste can, he immediately said, “You’re gonna do it, right?”

For two months I have pondered this question. The application period ends next week, on Friday, May 12th. Although I remain undecided, I’m leaning toward yes. In large part because Kay is correct. If no one applies, the program will die. It also turns out that I have some ideas I want to share. While I am hesitant to take on the task of writing theme-based poems for civic events, I am excited about the challenges this post will bring.

Do I need another volunteer gig? No, I most certainly do not.  But I also can’t shake the feeling that I’m meant to apply. This time. In this place. For a specific reason. And the reason is not to keep the program alive, although that’s important to me.


I’m still grappling with what this means. All I know so far is that I want to make a difference. I want to serve my community with my words. And maybe, just maybe, I’m meant to learn something.

So I’m putting together a literary project list—just in case.

Until next time,

About Cynthia J. Patton

Writer, Editor, Advocate, Speaker, Special Needs Attorney, and Autism Mom. Also the Founder and Chairperson of Autism A to Z, a nonprofit providing resources and solutions for life on the spectrum.
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