MONTEREY COUNTY — College professor Daniel B. Summerhill has been selected as Monterey County’s first Poet Laureate, with a two-year term that begins immediately.
“Being the inaugural Poet Laureate of Monterey County is exciting but doesn’t come without its due responsibility and urgency,” Summerhill said. “I now have a specific duty to the county (people) to leverage language as a means of social action, community building and truth-telling. I plan to use this same sentiment to foster exposure and relationships to poetry that folks might not have had previously.”
Summerhill was selected through a competitive application and evaluation process by a panel of literary experts, with the Monterey County Board of Supervisors approving the final decision. The Poet Laureate receives a $2,500 honorarium for the two-year term, funded by the county.
The Poet Laureate is an honorary position that celebrates the County of Monterey’s cultural heritage and promotes literacy and literature among county residents. Summerhill will also lead a community project to make poetry more accessible.
“I am so pleased that the County Board of Supervisors approved this program to celebrate poetry in our community, and Daniel is the perfect person to launch this inaugural position,” said Jacquie Atchison, executive director of Arts Council for Monterey County. “When he recites his poetry, he brings it to life — his words are powerful and soul-stirring.”
Summerhill is professor of poetry and social action and composition studies at California State University Monterey Bay. He has performed in more than 30 states and the United Kingdom, and was invited by the U.S. Embassy to guest lecture and perform in South Africa.
He has earned a Sharon Olds fellowship as well as a fellowship from the Watering Hole. His work has appeared in Columbia Journal, Rust and Moth, Button Poetry, Anti-heroin Chic, The Hellebore and other publications.
Summerhill’s poetry has earned him two Pushcart nominations as well as a Best of the Net nomination.
“Poet June Jordan says a poet is somebody who is free,” Summerhill said. “I plan to use poetry in service of freedom. To unearth the songs that folks already have in their bellies.”