Poetry Connection: Saying Yes to 2023 and Beyond

Originally published in the Santa Barbara Independent

As we wrap up 2023 and resolve to make changes in 2024, my first year Poet Laureate is still in play. The term began in April and in three months, a second year begins. I’m just getting started.

A reflection on 2023 reminds me that I did something I have never done before, say yes to every opportunity that came my way, from workshops to being an emcee to street performances. Since the beginning of my term, I’ve had the opportunity to connect with readers of this column. You’ve sent in your poems for possible publication and I have had the honor of meeting you many of you at workshops and poetry readings. While 2023 was challenging, especially being in the public eye, I am happy I pushed myself to say yes to so many opportunities to show up for poetry in Santa Barbara County and beyond.

Thanks to the examples of our state and national poets laureate Lee Herrick and Ada Limon, I felt that my schedule was manageable compared to theirs. The key is to be in charge of your own schedule and do things you love.

The exciting part of this year has been incorporating music into the position as poet laureate. What started as a hobby, playing guitar and ukulele, is now a more serious endeavor as I’ve used my poetry skills to write songs.

While the past year has been about surprises, opportunities, and personal growth, not all has been rosy. 2023 also included deaths of two close friends, including Poet Laureate colleague Sojourner Kincaid Rolle. Sojourner’s celebration of life will be on January 15 at from 1:30 pm to 3:30 pm at First United Methodist Church, 305 E. Anapamu Street.

As for 2024 and the three months left in my first year, I have some presentations and poetry readings lined up and some surprises for National Poetry Month in April (stay tuned for the poetry surprise. Hint, it involves a grant from the city). I also have an exciting personal adventure coming up this year, I will be going on a ukulele safari in Kenya. As far as new year’s resolutions go, this is the year I finish a new book. I’m also looking forward to connecting with more of you and reading your work. Send your poetry events and poems to  for possible publication in this column. Whether you’re someone who makes new year’s resolutions or not, know that the more you speak your wishes out loud and let others know your desires, the more likely those dreams and resolutions will come true. Happy 2024.