The Board of Supervisors for the County of Santa Clara appointed San José resident Janice Lobo Sapigao to the honorary post of Santa Clara County Poet Laureate for a two-year term ending Dec. 31, 2021 at its meeting of Monday, February 10, 2020.
“The Poet Laureate’s role is to elevate Santa Clara County residents’ awareness of the arts, and help inspire all readers and fans of poetry including the next generation of poets,” said County Librarian Nancy Howe. “We look forward to helping Janice connect with communities across the County to instill our shared love of the art form.”
Sapigao is a Poetry Editor at Angel City Review and has authored two books of poetry and numerous chapbooks. She also was a VONA/Voices Fellow and Manuel G. Flores Prize winner. Sapigao was named one of the Bay Area’s “2017 Women to Watch” by KQED Arts.
“Janice brings a unique voice that speaks to the experience of many residents of Silicon Valley,” said Supervisor Cindy Chavez, President of the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors. “Her identity as a U.S. born daughter of immigrants from the Philippines, and her ability to write about the intersection of these two identities is a rich confluence of artistic influences.”
Sapigao was recommended to the Board following the call for applications, and a two-step review process organized by the County of Santa Clara, Silicon Valley Creates (SVCreates), and the Santa Clara County Library District.
“SVCreates is a proud partner in Santa Clara County’s Poet Laureate program and has been since its inception. This is one of several SVCreates programs that accelerate and elevate the arts within our county,” said Connie Martinez, Chief Executive Officer of Silicon Valley Creates. “We are thrilled that Janice Lobo Sapigao has been selected this year to demonstrate the power of poetry and its relevance to contemporary lives.”
Sapigao, who works as an Assistant Professor of English at Skyline College in San Bruno, plans to develop a Youth Poet Laureate program for the County to further encourage the art and broaden participation in it.
“I am honored to be appointed as the next Santa Clara County Poet Laureate and develop my project to start a youth poet laureate program,” said Sapigao. “I hope to visit elementary, middle, and high schools in the county to promote the power of poetry as a source for connection, community, and critical conversations.”
Sapigao is the sixth poet laureate to be appointed by the County of Santa Clara Board of Supervisors. Nils Peterson was the County’s first Poet Laureate (2009-2011), followed by Sally Ashton (2012-13), David Perez (2014-2015), Arlene Biala (2016-17), and Mike McGee (2018-19).
Her poetry publications include like a solid to a shadow (Timeless, Infinite Light/Nightboat Books, 2017) and microchips for millions (Philippine American Writers and Artists, Inc., 2016). Sapigao was the co-founder of the Sunday Jump Open Mic in Los Angeles’ Historic Filipinotown and is a frequent performer at open mics, collegiate, and other poetry performance events across the country. She has recently been awarded a writing residency at the Vermont Studio Center for September-October 2020.
The Poet Laureate post was approved by the Board of Supervisors in November 2008 to elevate poetry among Santa Clara County residents 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 District, represents the County of Santa Clara through outreach related to poetry, conducts presentations of appropriate works at local events, and participates at activities to celebrate Poetry Month. The Poet Laureate will receive a modest honorarium. To learn more about the Poet Laureate program, go to sccgov.org/poetlaureate.
Article by Santa Clara County