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Thirty Poems for 30 Days Santa Clara County as seen through residents' eyes

Today, Signs of Winter, by Katie Carter is the first of 30 poems about Santa Clara County to be featured this month, National Poetry Month. The poem was one of 275 submitted in response to a call from Santa Clara County’s Poet Laureate Nils Peterson. Peterson, the County’s first official poet laureate, challenged residents to create poems that celebrate what they observe in day-to-day life.
Residents were invited to submit up to three poems. Ninety-five poets submitted a total of 275 poems.

“The choosing was not easy,” said Peterson. “There were many good poems.”

To ensure an objective process, all poets were given a number, the number was affixed to one copy of each of their poems, and the poems put in a great pile. Then they were read anonymously. Peterson said that all of the poems were read at least twice. From that number, 30 poems were chosen, and from the 30 the final winners will be picked.

In Signs of Winter, Carter draws contrasts between her life in Santa Clara and her friend’s in Chicago

         “It is raining again
         is the punch line to a letter
         I am writing to my friend in Chicago.
         She is huddled in her windy city
         apartment surrounded by
         knee-deep snow,
         contemplating staying there
         until spring.
         I am in my kitchen in Santa Clara
         surrounded by winter green hills,
         contemplating a Safeway bag
         full of Meyer lemons from my
         parents’ yard…”

To read the complete poem and follow the others for the remaining days in April including Pickers Wanted, by Bill Emerson and This Poetry Happened, by Kirsty MacKay this week, go to www.nilspetersonpoet.wordpress.com. The top winners will be announced after this month’s features.

About the Santa Clara County Poet Laureate
The Santa Clara County Poet Laureate post was advocated by Supervisor Liz Kniss and approved by the Board in November 2008. The mission of the Poet Laureate is to create a poetic identity for Santa Clara County, and showcase the spirit of the people and the special qualities of the county through poetry. Nils Peterson was appointed as the Santa Clara County Poet Laureate by the Board of Supervisors in March 2009.

Nils Peterson is Professor Emeritus at San Jose State University where he taught in the English and Humanities Departments. He was Coordinator of the Creative Writing Emphasis for more than 20 years, and served as Coordinator of the Creative Arts and Chair of the Humanities Department. He was chosen as Professor of the Year by the Student Honor Society. Peterson has published poetry, science fiction, and articles on subjects as varying as golf and Shakespeare. His publications include Here Is No Ordinary Rejoicing, A chapbook of poems; The Comedy of Desire, a collection of poems; Driving a Herd of Moose to Durango, a collection of poems; and For This Day, a collection of Christmas poems. He has been poetry consultant for San Jose State Studies, an editor for "Discover America" (a collection of poems celebrating the bicentennial anniversary of the USA), and contributing editor to The Blue Sofa Review. Peterson was nominated for a 2005 Pushcart prize.

About Arts Council Silicon Valley
Arts Council Silicon Valley is an independent, nonprofit arts agency dedicated to providing funding, advocacy support, and marketing services to the region’s arts organizations and artists. As the official state/local partner with the California Arts Council, the County of Santa Clara, and the National Endowment for the Arts, Arts Council Silicon Valley is the largest nonprofit arts council in the state. Since its inception in 1982, the Arts Council has provided nearly $24 million in grants and services to local arts and cultural organizations, individual artists, schools, and community groups. For more information on Arts Council Silicon Valley go to: www.artscouncil.org
Media Contact: Gwendolyn Mitchell/Laurel Anderson, Office of Public Affairs (408) 299-5119 or Anna Weldon, Arts Council Silicon Valley,(408) 998-2787, ext 217
Posted: April 1, 2010