Taking the Poetry Plunge

fountain-pen-1851096_1920After a great deal of thought, I decided to apply for the City’s Poet Laureate position. I did it in part because I didn’t want the program to end. But mostly I did it because there were things I’d hoped to see implemented during the past twelve years that were not. It appeared if I wanted to see them happen, I’d have to do it myself. Also, I was attracted to the challenge of being Poet Laureate. I thought it would help me grow and evolve as a poet. Plus I thought the role would help me claim the title of poet.

There was something else that I struggled to explain, which is embarrassing for a writer. Yet there it was, this vague feeling. Propelling me to apply.

So I put together my writer’s resume and gathered up five representative poems. I started brainstorming ideas, and I kept thinking about the vague feeling, attempting to define it. When it came to me, I knew with certainty that I would apply to be the next Poet Laureate. Because it was important.

Here is a preliminary list of my goals, which I’m sure will expand as time and opportunity arise:

  • Continue the monthly Whistlestop Writers Open Mic that I founded 3 years ago.
  • Continue the Ravenswood Poetry Series on a quarterly or bi-monthly basis.
  • Continue the monthly teen poetry contest.
  • Continue the Poetry in a Test Tube Contest.
  • Launch a wine-related poetry contest.
  • Host another ekphrastic event to showcase local artists and writers.
  • Launch a cowboy poetry event.
  • Host poetry slams to involve more local youth.

In addition, I want to revamp the Poet Laureate website. Instead of having a website for each individual Poet Laureate that goes dormant every few years, develop a permanent website (and corresponding Facebook page) devoted to Livermore Literary Arts. Website will include a Poet Laureate page, which can be updated each term, but also a literary events calendar, details on ongoing events, information on writing workshops, showcase teen poet of month, showcase poetry contest winners, provide literary links as well as bios for past Poet Laureates, and possibly even showcase local writers and poets. I also want to explore ways to establish a Livermore Literary Arts Center to house readings, workshops, book launches, poetry slams, etc. Because I’d rather spend my limited volunteer time organizing and hosting events rather than searching for an elusive venue.


But back to that vague feeling. I told the Commission for the Arts that if selected, I wanted my term as Poet Laureate to be collaborative and inclusive. In part because this is simply my style, but also because we all benefit from inclusion. Studies show that when inclusion increases, innovation, creativity, and problem solving increase as well. So I intended to foster acceptance and tolerance in whatever I did because it seemed that this is what we as Americans most need at this time.





Now more than ever, I believe in the power of words. Words to inspire, to motivate, to heal, to give hope. Words that uplift us. This is what I most want to give to my community: the power to rise above what would tear us apart. Maybe I’m crazy, but I believe I can do this through the literary arts.


So I applied. I had my interview with the Selection Committee last week. My fingers are crossed.

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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