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City of San Diego Announces Selection of Long-Time Resident as New Poet Laureate

Prior to his first public appearance at Mayor Todd Gloria’s 2023 State of the City Address, local poet Jason Magabo Perez, Ph.D., was appointed as the City of San Diego 2023-2024 Poet Laureate. During the Jan. 11 State of the City Address, Perez recited his poem "We Draft Work Songs for This City" on stage at the San Diego Civic Theatre.  

The Poet Laureate serves as an ambassador for the arts, advocating for poetry, spoken word and literary arts on behalf of the City of San Diego. Perez is the City’s second Poet Laureate, succeeding Ron Salisbury, who was appointed in 2020 for a two-year term.  

“Jason Magabo Perez is a champion for the art of poetry,” Mayor Gloria said. “I’m thrilled about his selection as San Diego’s Poet Laureate. His work is profound, innovative and uncompromising. As a long-time resident of San Diego, he has shown his dedication to our City through his extensive work as a poet, educator and advocate.”  

During his two-year appointment, Perez will create engaging and conceptually-rich original works that aim to broaden poetry audiences, inspire critical thinking, cultivate community connections and promote a deep appreciation of the art form through poetry projects. As the City’s civic poet, he will also be tasked with elevating an already thriving literary arts scene that enhances San Diego’s cultural richness.

Perez authored the poems “This is for the Mostless” and “I Ask About What Falls Away.” His prose and poetry have been featured in various publications, including Witness, The Feminist Wire, The Operating System, Faultline, Interim, Marías at Sampaguitas and Kalfou.

Perez resides in Clairemont Mesa and serves as a Community Arts Fellow at the Bulosan Center for Filipino Studies, Associate Editor for Ethnic Studies Review, as a core organizer of The Digital Sala and as an Associate Professor and Director of Ethnic Studies at California State University San Marcos. He previously served as an Artist in Residence at the Center for Art and Thought.

"I'm truly humbled to serve as the second San Diego Poet Laureate," Perez said. "I’m thrilled to support the expansive poetics and storytelling of our communities in San Diego. Poetry is at its best when it serves as a generative site for mutual empowerment, humility and dignity."

Perez believes in "poetry for and by the people, in the power of reclaiming our languages and lyrics, in the power of deep listening, and in the power of collective witnessing." Ultimately, Perez is committed to "the poetry of our everyday lives," and reminds us that poetry "has always been liberatory when thoroughly transdisciplinary, multimodal, relentlessly intergenerational, cross-cultural, community-based, collective and collaborative."

Perez was selected as the City’s Poet Laureate through a competitive request for qualifications that started in October last year. Applicants were evaluated on artistic excellence, education and training as a literary artist, literary recognition, engagement in past projects involving poetry and other poetry-related experiences.   

Jan. 19, 2023