I began my two-year term as Poet Laureate of San Mateo County on January 1, 2019 with a vision of what I hope to achieve. I am thrilled to carry on the wonderful poetic legacy of my predecessors and have worked hard to start my term off with impactful programming and community connections. I’ve visited schools, city halls, churches, and the county jail to share my work; launched my “Speak Poetry” campaign, and promoted my events on NBC Bay Area, KPFA Radio Berkeley, and PenTV, and publications such as The Six Fifty, Half Moon Bay Review, Redwood City Climate Magazine, New York-based Cagibi, and Manila-based Philippine Daily Inquirer. I have also been a featured speaker at the College of San Mateo and at Skyline College, and collaborated with other poets to help raise awareness on issues such as women’s rights, environmental protection, prevention of cruelty to animals, gun control, rehabilitation of prisoners through poetry, and mental health and suicide prevention. As the county’s first foreign-born and Asian American Poet Laureate, I also participated in the 10th Annual CSM Asian Pacific American Film Festival (which was a momentous event for a panethnic group that has, for so long, endured a lack of representation, especially in the film industry). In May, I was deeply honored to have been invited to read my poem in memory of those who died in service of our country at the 78th Annual Memorial Day Observance at the Golden Gate National Cemetery. And in September, with the support of the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors, the San Mateo County Arts Commission, the San Mateo County Libraries, and Poets Laureate Emeriti Caroline Goodwin and Lisa Rosenberg, I organized a convening of Bay Area Poets Laureate for a full day conference which culminated with a public poetry reading. Moving forward, I am working on projects that will highlight more local poets, facilitate community-building through poetry, and ensure the sustainability and longevity of said projects.
“SPEAK POETRY” CAMPAIGN
My campaign is an ongoing conversation where we’re given the opportunity to get to know people and the rhythm of their everyday lives. Human ecology is a significant feature of my projects, and aside from bringing different communities together through poetry events, I also edit a bi-annual anthology on specific themes.
“Speak Poetry” Issue 1 (April 2019) is about community.
“Speak Poetry” Issue 2, themed “childhood,” is forthcoming in December.