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Nevada City, CA, March 31, 2021 –  The Nevada County Art Council is inviting nominations for the 2021 Poet Laureate of Nevada County, with a deadline of April 15.

A poet laureate is someone chosen—originally by kings, now by governments and civic groups—to represent a region by composing poems for special occasions, reading in public, and helping to focus attention on poetry as an art form. Laureate refers to wearing a crown of laurel leaves, a symbol of honor in Ancient Greece for poets and heroes.  The Nevada County Poet Laureate Program is an initiative of Nevada County Arts Council in collaboration with the Nevada County Libraries. 

The role of the Nevada County Poet Laureate is to spread the art of poetry and encourage literacy and learning in Nevada County. During their two-year term, the Poet Laureate must provide a minimum of six public readings across the county for the purpose of educating community, business, County and municipal leaders about the value and importance of poetry and creative expression; and undertake a significant cultural project.

The Nevada County Poet Laureate Program was inaugurated at the Sierra Poetry Festival in 2017 in the presence of California Poet Laureate, Dana Gioia.  Nevada County’s inaugural Poet Laureate was celebrated poet, Molly Fisk. Over the course of her two-year tenure, Molly supported a community-written wall poem, ran daily writing prompts for residents, and led free monthly Poetry Hours across the county, as well as authoring poems of relevance locally. In 2019 Molly was awarded an Academy of American Poets Laureate Fellowship, one of only thirteen inaugural fellowships nationwide.

Molly Fisk at Sierra Poetry Festival in 2017, with Dana Gioia, California Poet Laureaete, on the occasion of her being named inaugural Nevada County Poet Laureate (photo: Radu Sava)

On April 27, 2019, at a passing of the laurels ceremony alongside Molly Fisk at Sierra Poetry Festival –  Chris Olander was named the new Nevada County Poet Laureate.  Chris is a poet and bio-educator, and has taught with California Poets in the Schools since 1984. He blends performance techniques with spoken word to create what he calls an ‘Action Art Poetry – musical images phrasing to dramatize relative experiences – a poetry arising from oral and bardic traditions.’  Chris Olander’s debut book of poems was River Light, and his most recent collection, published in 2021, is Twilight Roses.

Chris Olander, outgoing Nevada County Poet Laureate, at home (photo: Chris Olander)

Nominations for the 2021 Poet Laureate are limited to current residents of Nevada County and are due at the Nevada County Arts Council via our online nomination form and/or email by 5pm on April 15, 2021. For questions, please email poetry@nevadacountyarts.org.