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Santa Clara County Poet Laureate Program

The honorary post of Santa Clara County Poet Laureate was created by the County of Santa Clara Board of Supervisors on November 18, 2008. The County works in partnership with Arts Council Silicon Valley to select a nominee every two years for Board appointment.

Candidates go through a peer review and interview process, and are rated on artistic merit, commitment to the community, and the alignment of the proposed public projects with the mission of the post of Poet Laureate. The ratings were compiled and the top three candidates are referred for interviews.

Sally Ashton, a poet, writer, teacher and editor of the DMQ Review, was appointed to take the post of poet laureate beginning April 1, 2011, for a two year term expiring March 31, 2013. She is the second poet laureate, following Nils Peterson, Professor Emeritus, San Jose State University.


The Santa Clara County Poet Laureate is an honorary post. The nominee is appointed by the County of Santa Clara Board of Supervisors. The mission of the Poet Laureate is to:


  • Elevate poetry in the awareness of Santa Clara County residents and to help celebrate the literary arts;
  • Serve as an advocate for poetry, literature, and the arts;
  • Lead a community project that makes poetry more accessible; and
  • Contribute to Santa Clara County’s poetry and literary legacy.