Santa Clara County / CALFORNIA
On Tuesday the County of Santa Clara Board of Supervisors appointed Arlene Biala to the honorary post of Santa Clara County Poet Laureate. Biala has been appointed for a two-year term ending Dec. 31, 2017. The Poet Laureate’s role is to elevate Santa Clara County residents’ awareness of poetry, and to help celebrate the literary arts.
“The Poet Laureate serves as an ambassador to the poetic arts in our community,” said President Dave Cortese, County of Santa Clara Board of Supervisors. “Arlene Biala will bring new facets of performance art to her role.”
Biala was recommended to the Board following the call for applications, and a two-step review process organized by the County of Santa Clara and Silicon Valley Creates.
“Candidates were considered for artistic merit, commitment to the community, and alignment with the Poet Laureate mission,” said County Executive Jeffrey V. Smith, M.D., J.D. “Arlene emerged as the recommended nominee for appointment by the Board of Supervisors.”
Biala is an award winning Filipino American poet and performance artist who has been participating in poetry performances and workshops in the Bay Area for over 20 years. Born in San Francisco and raised in Santa Clara, she is a long-time resident of Santa Clara County.
“Silicon Valley Creates is pleased to continue our partnership with the County of Santa Clara as the program administrator for the Poet Laureate program, and we look forward to promoting Arlene’s projects and activities,” said Connie Martinez, Chief Executive Officer of Silicon Valley Creates.
Biala is the author of several collections of poetry: “Bone”, (Helmut Press, 1993), “Continental Drift” (West End Press, 1999), and her latest book, “Her Beckoning Hands” (Word Poetry Press, 2014), which just won the 2015 American Book Award. Her poems have also appeared in anthologies and journals such as Caesura, Red Wheelbarrow, REED Magazine, and Verses Typhoon Yolanda: A Storm of Filipino Poets.
“I am honored and humbled to be selected as the next Santa Clara County Poet Laureate. As poet laureate I want to help provide opportunities for people to engage with each other and to share their stories through poetry,” Biala said. “Ultimately, the goal is to generate enthusiasm for poetry, and to create spaces where everyone, from veteran poets to those experiencing poetry for the first time, has increased access to poetry through public spaces and community settings.”
Biala received her MFA in Poetics & Writing from New College of CA, and was the recipient of an artist residency at Montalvo Arts Center in Saratoga. She lives in Sunnyvale with husband Carl, and their three children: Kai, Joshua, and Kiana. Ms. Biala is an arts program manager with the City of San Jose Office of Cultural Affairs, serving the community for nearly 20 years through provision of arts education, professional development and funding support programs for local arts organizations, artists and arts-based businesses.
Biala is the fourth poet laureate to be appointed by the County of Santa Clara Board of Supervisors. Nils Peterson was the County’s first Poet Laureate (2009-2011), followed by Sally Ashton (2012-13), and David Perez served as the third Poet Laureate (2014-2015).
The poet laureate post was approved by the Board in November 2008 in an effort to elevate poetry in the awareness of Santa Clara County residents and to help celebrate the literary arts. The Poet Laureate acts as a resource for poetry and literary activities to the Santa Clara County Library, represents the County of Santa Clara through outreach related to poetry, conducts presentations of appropriate works at the annual State of the County ceremony and other selected County sponsored events, as well as at activities to celebrate Poetry Month. The Poet Laureate will receive a modest honorarium. To learn more about the Poet Laureate program, go to www.sccgov.org/poetlaureate.
About Silicon Valley Creates
Silicon Valley Creates is building a network of leaders who care about the cultural and aesthetic quality of life in Silicon Valley. Our mission is to ignite investment and engagement in our creative culture through programs and initiatives that build the capacity of our creative sector, raise its value and visibility and increase access to arts and creativity.