Commission for Arts and Culture
Calling all Poets! The City of San Diego and its Poet Laureate, Ron Salisbury, invite all San Diegans to participate in the Poetry Together Challenge! Ron Salisbury will be sharing a prompt, and the public is invited to respond by submitting a poem or spoken word piece. Select works will be featured along with a poem by Poet Laureate, Ron Salisbury.
Scroll down to see the current prompt, and submit your poem or spoken word piece by midnight the following Sunday for a chance to be featured! Check back to see featured works!
An Open Invitation to San Diegans from Poet Laureate, Ron Salisbury:
Dear San Diego, Poetry has been used at times of emotional peaks throughout history. We never ask someone to write a short story to read at a friend’s wedding. And poetry seems to more immediately and effectively reach into us in times of danger and crisis. I’ll send out a prompt or idea for you to use. Now is the time to put your fingers on the keyboard or around a pen and we’ll all help each other through poems. I will select from your poems, a few poems to feature along with my own, and offer you a new prompt. And like this, week by week, poem by poem, we’ll get through this together.
We are all waiting…
By Ron Salisbury, San Diego Poet LaureateAt 10:15 this morning, any morning now, we are waiting… The door to the little patio is open so I can see rain dibbling puddles on the patio, the air waltzing in cooler and cooler. We are waiting... Not the waiting like before; on the bench at Voltaire and Sunset Cliffs. Where is the 52 bus? No schedule to check so we don’t know if it’s late or even running. Waiting for the Christmas amaryllis from your ex’s aunt who can’t remember what happened, to blossom. Some years only some waiting is filled with little hammers, but now…. for the bioluminescence, exact high tide, check from the guy, to measure only twice before cutting, to figure any jumble, a skate board, for the girl in the black halter to run by at 4:30, and wave. For AAA to arrive with the gas, for poetry to mean….. Waiting; all that plaque between want and does… But not today. This waiting is shapeless, the unsettling, nothing outside on the wet lawn, the no-end perhaps, no idea what after feels like. That waiting…
Selected Works from Prompt 2:By Susan Smith 1.
May moon melon-full
Above the dark pine needles
Distant sirens wail
Crow tilts his head
Yellow tape on the swing set
Just right for my nest
By Joan Gerstein
How considerate of you to cover
the world, allow Planet Earth to heal. Oh, lethal
bat-birthed bane, imprison us at home, until
greenhouse gas emissions go the way of the dodo.
You show us, oh powerful pathogen, how to drop
pollution levels with ease of coconuts from palms.
Oh, queen of contagion, choke poacher’s breath,
keep coal in their fracked holes, shutter factories
and slaughterhouses. I bow to your potent power,
wear facemasks to lesson your infection
and gloves to keep at bay your bacillus.
You, a mighty microbe of mass murder, and yet,
oh, social spreader of sickness, you mend our planet.
We are mere mortals waiting for your pox to pass.
Oh, toxic troubadour, who has escorted dolphins
to Venice’s canals, coaxed wildlife to venture out,
siphoned chemicals from the seas, before we destroy
you, I beseech you: make us mind the earth.
By ©Romina Espinosa de los Monteros
Despertar otro día
a una nueva realidad,
por segunda vez
es como piel quemada,
sin saber cuán profunda
será la llaga.
el afán por leerlas
son como una droga
que calman el miedo.
Antes de empezar
la nueva rutina laboral,
camino al jardín.
Dos migrantes nuevos,
de pecho amarillo,
con pico y cola negra
vuelan de palmera
Forman círculos por el cielo
cantando una balada,
de sonidos indescifrables
indica una pesquisa.
Continúo a la espera,
quizás a una sociedad
más justa, más humana…
No lo sé.
Se escucha otro sonido
al caer dos nísperos.
El jardín susurra,
susurra una verdad,
vale la pena vivir.
DREAMS: During these days of seclusion, the nights are sometimes calm and sometimes not. It may be cramped with everyone here, or somewhat lonely with only you. And the dreams we have are sometimes fine and sometimes not. What are your Dreams like in these times?
The Mayor Called
By Ron Salisbury, San Diego Poet LaureateIn his dream, Reggie is dreaming and the mayor calls, needs a poem by tomorrow. Even though vexing, it made a kind of sense to him, in the dream he was dreaming, even though Reggie hasn’t written a poem for sixty-five years, since the one to Jeannie Balabus in seventh grade, intercepted by Mrs. Johnson who made him read it to the whole class. In the morning, Reggie is already confused enough with the dream of dreaming without the poem and the mayor. The mayor called on a land line which Reggie doesn’t have. But it was so real! He thought he might try something just in case, turns on his lap top and begins typing, “We miss the mauzy woods of Torrey Pines, the flaming furze along the Sunset Cliffs.” What? I didn’t type that! Tries again. “Its neighing cleaves, its gladsome plenty purling down, ridgy waves, our graver thoughts.” What is going on? “Oh San Diego, its days adagio, we miss you so.” The phone rings in the bedroom, Reggie goes to answer, picks up the receiver. It’s Mrs. Johnson.
Selected Works from Prompt 1:Quarandream By Krysada Phounsiri Lawn mower buzzing on the other side of the window rattles my head I wake walk downstairs to the kitchen where coffee brews Its steam trails to the altar where smoke from a lavender scented candle hovers over the hands of my Mother She prays the world heals and liberates from the outbreak lifting her hands to her forehead Eyes closed connecting to Buddha and her angels above We are awake But I sit in the kitchen and observe sip my coffee Black like a portal to a dream I dream of a time when she can walk to the grocery store Alone without fearing for shouts and kicks That will rattle her head because everyone Asian must be from China and carry the “Chinese Virus” Therefore, a threat What a dream today becomes when one of her children must accompany her to the grocery store just in case Had to sit outside The same Goldfinch sings as if they now guard the canyon and the sky beyond the backyard I think about these times Feels like Earth looks up to its own sky Wrapped in the black of space Wondering if this is all a dream I try to read the name of your perfume By Tania Pryputniewicz I dodge unmasked walkers on the Silver Strand, rebreathe stale breaths beneath the pajama fabric of my mask. Toddlers in oncoming strollers stare. Yesterday, unmasked, I could have smiled at them. Sunlight slips over the kestrel sculpture made of spoons in my father’s house. Anderson Cooper shows viewers the divot in the haircut he gave himself. Cuomo broadcasts sweating from basement quarantine. We binge-watch Joe Exotic, Fleabag, Ozark. The coyotes on the Russian River yip by night, prehistoric silver sips. People in Marin howl now too, I’m told. I pull tarot’s Tower card, the Lovers next. Chile, Iceland, Denmark, India, San Diego, Mexico and Maine: Facebook Live, Snatum Kaur’s morning circle, guitar in her arms. We chant, we sing from home: 700, 800, 1k the counter counts, thread of heart emojis like a diver’s bubbles on the screen, our upraised palms to sky. For Father on a ventilator. For Auntie who won’t ever see one. For Grandma living with her two dogs in Texas. For the pregnant mother in ICU. For the twelve pages of Boston obituaries. For the ER doctor who took her life. Three times we hold our breath, once for the self, once for the circle’s every prayer, a third time for time itself, all beings, every heart beating despite suspended breath. I dream in perpetual zoom, gallery view. I see you, propped on pillows, your dresser behind you. I try to read the name of your perfume, the spines of the books on your shelf, forget to unmute my audio when my turn to speak, my house shrunk, a wooden star afloat on a sea the red tide churns bioluminescent blue, a tsunami’s curling wave at every sill. I hold my breath, raise my palms to the ceiling, and sing.
Dreams Can Go Viral
By Ron Lauderbach
I probably shouldn’t be telling you this. I should be talking to a psychologist, a priest, or maybe even the police because something is chasing me, and it means to do me harm. So far, I have no evidence, at least none that anyone would believe, but just before I wake up and immediately after, I see robot-like figures about to overtake me, throwing hand grenades filled with Covid-19. I’m hesitant to speak up. I’m afraid people will think I’m nuts but then I consider Jacob dreamed he saw angels climbing ladders to heaven about 3500 years ago, and he’s still pulling that one off and Mary Shelley, while hanging out with Lord Byron a couple hundred years ago, dreamed of creating a laboratory monster and that’s been good for her. Robert Louis Stevenson dreamed up Jekyll and Hyde and E.B. White took twenty years to develop his dream of a talking mouse into Stuart Little. More recently, Steven King on a flight to London, dreamed about a crazy woman who kidnapped her favorite writer and tortured him. His dream became Misery. So, stick around. I’m just waiting for the heavy-duty PPE I’ve ordered. I’ll survive this and publish my thriller.
Sunday, May 3, 2020 – Prompt 1 released
Sunday, May 10, 2020 - Prompt 1 selected poems due
Sunday, May 17, 2020 – Prompt 2 released, Prompt 1 selected poems published
Sunday, May 24, 2020 – Prompt 2 selected poems due
Sunday, May 31, 2020 – Prompt 2 selected poems published
Ron Salisbury has been appointed San Diego’s first Poet Laureate.
“San Diegans have a special story to tell and I can think of no one better than long-time resident Ron Salisbury to tell it,” said Mayor Kevin L. Faulconer. “With the creation of this new City tradition, I encourage all San Diegans to explore the creativity and culture of our great city and I look forward to seeing our community’s love for the literary arts continue to grow.”
The City’s Poet Laureate serves as an ambassador and advocate for poetry, spoken word, and the literary arts. During the two-year term, the appointed Poet Laureate produces engaging and conceptually rich original works inspired by and in response to San Diego. Charged with cultivating critical thinking, connection, and appreciation of the art form, the Poet Laureate participates in public events and leads a poetry project that broadens the audiences for poetry. Most importantly, the Poet Laureate is the City’s poet, a civic poet - the people’s poet, whose role is to elevate an already thriving literary arts scene and enhance San Diego’s cultural richness.
Salisbury’s many literary awards include the Main Street Rag’s Poetry Book Prize for his book Miss Desert Inn (2015). A life-long learner, he earned his first degree, a Bachelor of Arts in Business and Poetry from Antioch University in San Francisco in 1983, followed by two Master of Art’s degrees, one in Management from Antioch and the second in Liberal Studies from Mills College in Oakland, Calif. Thirty years later, at the age of 69, he decided to return to school and pursue his true passion and received a Masters of Fine Arts in Poetry from San Diego State University. Salisbury lives in San Diego’s University City neighborhood.
As a dedicated teacher, Salisbury has taught poetry classes in San Diego and throughout California for more than 40 years. For the past eight years, he has led a weekly poetry workshop at Writer’s Ink, a local nonprofit.
“Since the 7th grade, all I’ve ever wanted to be is a poet,” Salisbury said. “It is a great honor to be chosen as San Diego’s first Poet Laureate. This appointment will empower me to represent the dynamic San Diego I love and promote. It will allow me to teach and encourage poetry to an even higher presence than I already do. I want to give back to the city that adopted me, share my poetry with its people, and share San Diego with the world.”
Salisbury was chosen through a competitive request for qualifications process for the role as poet Laureate. The criteria used to evaluate artists included artistic excellence, education and training as a literary artist, literary recognition, engagement in past projects that involve poetry, and other experiences related to poetry, among others. The Poet Laureate selection committee was composed of Adrian Arancibia, co-founder of poetry and spoken word collective Taco Shop Poets and Professor of English and Creative Writing at Miramar Community College; poet, curator, and columnist Gerda Govine; Veronica Murphy, Artistic Director and co-founder of Write Out Loud; and Gaspar Orozco, poet and Mexican Consulate of Cultural Events in San Diego.