Santa Barbara’s Poet Laureate
Just over a decade ago, the Santa Barbara Arts Commission decided to create its own Poet Laureate position, where one of our city’s many poets gets to serve for two years, being called on to create poems for official city functions. Past laureates have included Barry Spacks, Perie Longo, David Starkey, Paul Willis and Chryss Yost. Although she helped create the position, initially Sojourner Kincaid Rolle had no desire to accept the title, but this year, the thirty year citizen of SB decided, what the hey.
This being National Poetry Month, I reached out to Sojourner and asked her to be on the podcast. We found a quiet room at the library and sat down for a freewheeling chat, about her life, her influences, and her work. Oh, and we get her to read four of her poems, including her epic “Black Street.” This is a chat full of references, and I’ve tried to link to as many as possible below.
Topics Discussed include:
What happens in Santa Barbara when you become a Poet Laureate
Working with youth in Santa Barbara
How rap has helped poetry
Tupak Shakur’s The Rose that Grew from Concrete
A theory of creeks and young people
Her job at the New York Public Library and getting involved in the Civil Rights Movement
Where she was when MLK was assassinated and the play that came out of it
Where she learned poetry and what it took to get her to write her first mature poem
Her activist lineage
Her problems with Allen Ginsberg and her answer to Howl: “Black Street”
William Stafford, her mentor
Langston Hughes “A Negro Speaks of Rivers”
Her routines and how she writes
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