POET LAUREATE OF EL DORADO COUNTY

The post of El Dorado County Poet Laureate is bestowed on a noted local poet to honor his or her body of work and to celebrate poetry as an art form. Consideration is given to the caliber of his/her work, engagement with poets and writers in the community, and the critical acclaim the work has garnered.

The post entails a two-year term beginning July 1. The term includes the composition of several “occasional poems” per year, to be presented or read at public events; creation and implementation of the Poet Laureate’s own special Poetry Project as a public benefit; participation in public readings at libraries in all five El Dorado County supervisorial districts on the Laureate Trail; and a commitment to participate in El Dorado County’s Poetry Out Loud programs for high school students.

The Laureate Trail allows the public to join the El Dorado County Poet Laureate on a literary tour of the County. The Laureate is joined by local poets, Poetry Out Loud winners and special guests at El Dorado County libraries in each district in the county for free poetry readings and events.

Click here to see the Laureate Trail schedule.

Poet Laureate 2021 - 2023

Lara Gularte hosts the popular, “Poetry of the Sierra Foothills,” monthly readings, and is a member of the Red Fox Underground Poets, a longstanding local poetry writing group. Her book of poetry, Kissing the Bee, was published by The Bitter Oleander Press, in 2018. Her forthcoming book, Fourth World Woman, published by “Finishing Line Press,” will be available January 2022. Nominated for several Pushcart Prizes, she has been published in national and international journals and anthologies. Her poetry depicting her Azorean heritage is included in the The Gávea-Brown Book of Portuguese-American Poetry. She is affiliated with the Cagarro Colloquium: Azorian Diaspora Writers, at the Portuguese Beyond Borders Institute (PBBI), California State University-Fresno. In 2017 Gularte traveled to Cuba with a delegation of American poets and presented her poetry at the Festival Internacional de Poesia de la Habana. She’s a proud member of the esteemed, “Escritores Del Nuevo Sol.” Gularte is a creative writing instructor for the Arts in Corrections program at Mule Creek prison.

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"Poetry speaks to our universal values. As Poet Laureate of El Dorado County, I will promote an environment of respect and connection among the people in our communities through the poetry of who we are, and where we live. I believe when you inhabit a place there is a sense of continuity between past, present, and future, and a relationship with the lives that live there. Poetry helps us see our world in a wider view and can be the catalyst that gathers us together to share our similarities and celebrate our differences. By telling our stories, telling the stories of the neighborhood, beyond the neighborhood, to something larger, we can honor our common humanity." - Lara Gularte

Saving Myself

My ancestors are stones in the river.
They sparkle,
their quartz veins
glisten in granite.
I wade carefully,
feeling with bare feet
smooth skinned stones.
A muskrat swims by me
slick-backed, fur shining.
.
Braced against current
and slippery bank
I lose my step,
I fall into the cold stream.
A water sprite travels
1000 years
to swim through my bones.
Minnows scatter;
I drink the river.
.
Deer breathe hard in the shadows.
In the pines a spotted owl chants,
and a old, scaly fish
beats up from the bottom,
then sinks back down again.
.
I rise from the current,
find shallow water,
sit among the stones.
In a mountain pool
where a trout darts,
I bless my reflection.

First published The Call: An Anthology of Women’s Writing

Poet Laureate 2018 - 2020

Suzanne Roberts

Suzanne Roberts is a travel writer, memoirist, and poet. Her books include the 2012 National Outdoor Book Award-winning Almost Somewhere: Twenty-Eight Days on the John Muir Trail (Bison Books, 2012), the award-winning memoir in travel essays Bad Tourist: Misadventures in Love and Travel (University of Nebraska Press, 2020), a collection of lyrical essays, Animal Bodies: On Death, Desire, & Other Difficulties (forthcoming from the University of Nebraska Press, 2022), and four collections of poetry.

​Suzanne was named "The Next Great Travel Writer" by National Geographic Traveler Magazine, and Bad Tourist was awarded a gold medal for Travel Essays from the Independent Publisher Book Awards, a bronze medal for Best Travel Book from the North American Travel Journalists Association, was a finalist in the Story Circle's "Gilda Awards" for Women's Humor, a finalist in the National Indie Excellence Awards in Travel, and a finalist in the Foreword Indie Awards in Travel. Her work has been published in many literary journals and magazines, including Creative Nonfiction, Brevity, River Teeth, Litro, and Zyzzyva.

Suzanne holds a doctorate in Literature and the Environment from the University of Nevada-Reno and currently teaches at Lake Tahoe Community College and for the low-residency MFA program in Creative Writing at SNC-Tahoe. She lives in South Lake Tahoe.

Incan Wall

Sacsayhuaman, Peru

Inside the belly of the cave,
a darkness more than metaphor
erases rock walls, ceiling,
ground, me. I find myself

alone in a literal darkness,
in the center of  nothing,
realize this cold, dark womb
could be the only fear.

But I emerge, of course—
a light-flooded Andean backdrop,
the undulation of green flickering
before white-capped mountains.

My mother says when she dies,
it could be days before anyone
would find her. Such comfort
in being found still warm.

Poet Laureate 2016 - 2018

Taylor Graham served as the inaugural Poet Laureate of El Dorado County from 2016 – 2018. Taylor was named the inaugural El Dorado County Poet Laureate on Tuesday, April 19, 2016.

Taylor Graham first realized her interest inpoetzy and literature when introduced to Shakespeare in her 10th grade English class at Wm S. Hart High  School in Newhall. She majored in German with a French minor at Cal Lutheran College in Thousand Oaks, then went to USC for a master's in comparative literature.

She spent a year in the Fulbright Program at Freiburg, Germany, and returned to USC as a Woodrow Wilson scholar. She has also worked on a newspaper as a reporter and photographer. In 1972 she married Hatch Graham and they set off for his Forest Service tour in Alaska. Graham has had thousands ofpoems printed  inpoetzy magazines, journals,  newspapers, and anthologies, and a number of books of poetry.

During her time as Poet Laureate Taylor wrote many “occasional poems” for official events throughout her tenure, which can be found in the collection Laureate Trail, A Collection of Works, published by Arts and Culture El Dorado and is available on Amazon.

This Is My Office

I’m up before first light,
let the dogs out into the dark wild
and listen for Screech Owl whispering
her soft falling call from somewhere
very close, maybe an oak over-leaning
the tool shed. This is the time
when sight gives over to sound, smell,
touch – if it might rain, or a breeze
stirring news off the higher hills.
My office is between
bedrock mortar and hydraulic monitor,
roadside chicory, a glimpse of fox.
Driving the gold trail, I’ll see
field and orchard disappear into a haze
of distant forest, the Crystal Range.
This is my office. It has to do
with the work of seeing, telling.
It has to do with wonder
and praise.

on becoming Poet Laureate, April 2016