Los Angeles Poet Laureate - Open Call for Applications

David Kelly, Senior Librarian, Literature & Fiction Department,
Los Angeles Poet Laureate Open Call
Los Angeles Poet Laureate Open Call


The Honorable Eric Garcetti, Mayor of the City of Los Angeles, is pleased to announce the continuation of the City of Los Angeles Poet Laureate Program, which is managed as a partnership between the Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA) and the Los Angeles Public Library (LAPL). Just as the National Poet Laureate works from within the Library of Congress, the City of Los Angeles Poet Laureate will work within the Los Angeles Public Library.

The Poet Laureate Program was established in August of 2012. Mr. Luis J. Rodriguez has served one two-year term as LA’s Poet Laureate between September 2014 and October 2016.

The City of Los Angeles Poet Laureate is selected through an open-call process. Nominations and direct proposals are welcome to connect the City with master poets who wish to be considered for the honor. Nominations will be researched and proposals reviewed by an expert panel, so that one candidate can be appointed by the Mayor in January 2017.

The Mayor’s Office’s guiding principles require an open nomination/application process with stated eligibility criteria, judging, and performance expectations to engender inclusiveness, transparency, and fairness.



The City seeks to name one Poet Laureate to serve as an official ambassador of LA’s vibrant creative scene, promoting the City’s rich literary community and celebrating the written word.

The objectives of the Poetry LA and Poet Laureate Opportunities are to:

  • Enhance the presence and appreciation of poetry and the literary arts in Los Angeles;
  • Create a focal point for the expression of Los Angeles culture through the literary arts;
  • Raise awareness of the power of literature, poetry, and the spoken word;
  • Inspire an emerging generation of critical thinkers, writers, storytellers, and literary artists;
  • Bring the literary arts to people in Los Angeles who have limited access to poetry or have few opportunities for exposure to expressive writing;
  • Encourage both the reading and writing of literature; and,
  • Create a new body of literary works that commemorate the diversity and vibrancy of the LA region.



Over the course of the two-year appointment, (renewable after the first year), the City of

Los Angeles Poet Laureate will carry out the following duties during each year:

  • Provide no less than six public classes or workshops at various LAPL branches as well as six public readings of either: original works created for these events, past work appropriate to the occasion and audience, and/or historic works by past or living Los Angeles poets;
  • Lead the coordination of LAPL and DCA for no less than one festival-style event at the Central Library in April to celebrate National Poetry Month, with the specific goal to increase awareness and appreciation of poetry in Los Angeles;
  • Engage Los Angeles residents, visitors, civic and elected leaders, young people, adults, seniors, and students of all ages about the value of poetry, the written word, and creative expression through six or more self-coordinated or community-partnered activities that are reviewed and approved by DCA;
  • Submit content for one poetry blog on the LAPL website to be updated on at least a monthly basis. The purpose of the blog is to excite discussion, exchange, and participation in poetry, as well as educate readers about the culture of written and spoken word in Los Angeles;
  • Use social media as often as possible, or work with City staff to prepare social media communications that encourage excitement about poetry, literacy and literary events, and related issues; and,
  • Write one or more commemorative poem(s) about Los Angeles.



The Los Angeles Poet Laureate will be contracted by DCA and receive a $10,000.00 annual fee. This honorarium will be made in three payments of approximately $5,000.00, $3,500.00, and $1,500.00 based on benchmarks established in the legal contract. After the services of the first year are completed, a review of the contract will be conducted by the DCA, LAPL, and the Mayor’s Office to determine if the Poet Laureate has successfully completed the terms and responsibilities of their contract. If so, a second year agreement for another $10,000.00 contract will be considered and offered.



Finalists for the position of City of Los Angeles Poet Laureate must be able to demonstrate via their professional resume:

  • A residential address within Los Angeles County and a live/work relationship to the City of Los Angeles; and,
  • Seven years of experience (not including years as student) in either publishing poetry or presenting poetry, or both, with a demonstrated record of being included or invited to present works within poetry journals, magazines, websites, and/or programs that are not predominately self-curated, personal websites, or personal blogs.



The selection process is managed by the Mayor’s Office and coordinated by DCA and the LAPL. All proposals will be reviewed by an application review committee, comprised of a team of persons with combined knowledge about: poetry, prose, creative writing, public programs, and the City of LA.

Stage 1 – Request for Qualifications

All nominations are required to submit:

  • An application cover page with personal contact information;
  • A standard certification statement, signed by the applicant; and,
  • Two work samples, consisting of PDF copies of published poems and/or web links to videos of poetry readings or performances.

All Stage 1 submissions will be reviewed and scored on the following two criteria:

  • 4 Points – Ability for the panel to assess the candidates prior experiences on her/his website or other means, and
  • 6 Points – The quality of poetry samples in relation to the excellent talent-pool and multi-cultural nature of LA.

Stage 2 – Request for Proposals

The Review Committee will select the top 20 to 30 candidates from Stage 1, who will be asked to submit:

  • A brief biography (7 to 10 sentences);
  • A full resume or CV;
  • A proposal narrative (of no more than two pages) which must describe how the applicant intends to approach the scope of work and goals of this program; and,
  • Up to four additional recent work samples, consisting of PDF copies of published poems and/or web links to videos of poetry readings or performances.

Stage 3 – Interview

Three to five finalists recommended by the Review Committee will be interviewed by the Mayor and/or his designates.



All application materials for Stage 1 must be submitted electronically via Slide Room by

11:59 p.m. on Friday, December 16, 2016.

Incomplete and late submissions will be deemed ineligible and will not be considered.



Questions about the application process should be emailed to the DCA Grants Office or by calling 213.202.5566.