MONTEREY COUNTY — After a competitive application and evaluation process by a panel of literary experts, and approved by the Board of Supervisors, the Arts Council for Monterey County (Arts4MC) has announced Rachelle Escamilla as the 2024-25 Monterey County Poet Laureate.
The Poet Laureate is an honorary position that celebrates Monterey County’s cultural heritage and promotes literacy and literature among county residents.
Escamilla is only the second to hold the title. She begins a two-year term commencing immediately and will receive a $5,000 honorarium, funded by Arts4MC.
“We are very excited and looking forward to what Rachelle will be able to accomplish during her term to promote poetry in Monterey County,” said Jacquie Atchison, executive director of Arts4MC.
Escamilla is a Chicana poet from the Central Coast of California. She is the author of three books of poetry, “Imaginary Animal,” “Me Drawing a Picture of Me[n]” and “Space Junk from the Heavenly Palace.”
Escamilla is the founder of a number of organizations and international literary programs, including The Poets and Writers Coalition and Legacy of Poetry Day at San José State University; The English-language Center for Creative Writing at Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou, China; and the Latinx Poetix Symposium at California State University Monterey Bay.
From 2015 to 2020, Escamilla was the producer and host of the longest running poetry radio show in the United States, “Out of Our Minds” on KKUP Cupertino 91.5 FM. She also recorded her poems for the Archive of Hispanic Literature on Tape: Palabra, and published an article, “Searching for My Family,” with the Library of Congress.
Escamilla is the recipient of several awards, including the Virginia de Arujo Academy of American Poets Prize, James Phelan Literary awards and Philanthropist of the Year for helping the Friends of the SBC Free Library develop an online presence.
Escamilla hopes to adapt her poetry into a play to be directed by Katherine Wilkinson and scheduled to show at Access Theater in New York, which was supposed to happen during the summer of 2020.
Escamilla has been featured at a number of poetry events across the United States, but most notably at UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, at the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History and at City of Asylum alongside Eileen Myles and Alexia Bomtempo.
To learn more, visit arts4mc.org/poetlaureate.