The seeds of poetry are abloom in Solano County.

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The seeds of poetry are abloom in Solano County.

The seeds of poetry are abloom in Solano County. If your New Year’s resolution is to share your poetic creations with a welcoming, diverse community of writers or just enjoy live spoken word, there are plenty of local opportunities just waiting for you.

On a county wide level the Solano County Fair accepts poetry submissions as part of their summer exhibitions, and spoken word performers are welcome to apply to perform live on stage at the fair. The Solano County Library holds an annual teen poetry contest and National Poetry Month events. The local chapter of Poetry Out Loud sponsored by the Solano Arts Council works with students to memorize famous poems for competition.

Four municipalities in Solano County now have poets laureate representing them in the poetry community, and cooking up a myriad of public events to connect the public with literary talent. Suisun City is the newest town to grant the laurels to a local poet, naming its first poet laureate in May 2022. Poet Laureate David Camper aka 50th Excalibur recently performed at Suisun City’s first Kwanzaa celebration. 

Benicia was the first in the county to appoint a poet laureate, naming Joel Fallon to the post in 2006. The tradition has held for 17 years, with the appointment of 8 additional poets laureate. Benicia has developed a robust poetry program with an international love poetry contest, anthologies, a youth scholarship, and ekphrastic poetry collaborations with local art galleries. Former Poet Laureate Mary Susan Gast accepts submissions for publication in the Benicia HeraldBenicia Literary Arts publishes a wide range of books and holds workshops for writers. 

The Benicia First Tuesday Poets hold their regular open mic on the first Tuesday of every month at the Dona Benicia room in the Benicia Public Library at 150 East L Street at 6:15 PM. Benicia’s 9th poet laureate Kathy Monroe will host beginning January 2nd. The group has been meeting since 2003.

Fairfield was the second community to name a poet laureate with Juanita J. Martin accepting the laurels in 2010. Suzanne Bruce is Fairfield’s third poet laureate, and she hosts a wide variety of programs, including ekphrastic poetry with the FSVAA, nature hikes, and a monthly column for youth poets in the Daily Republic entitled The Poetry Connection. Bruce will host an open mic featuring Connie Post, Francesca Bell and Luke Johnson at the Fairfield-Cordelia Library on January 20th.

Vallejo named its first poet laureate Dr. Genea S. Brice in 2015. She founded the Poetry in Notion poetry circle. In 2024 the read-around group will meet at John F. Kennedy Library at 505 Santa Clara on the second Saturday of each month at noon, beginning January 13. Vallejo’s co-poets laureate Kathleen Herrmann and Jacalyn Eyvonne will host. The duo recently performed at the Mad Hatter Holiday Festival and Poetry and Monologues Film Festival. 

Vallejo’s longest running open mic is Poetry by the Bay. Founded in 2008 by Kyrah Ayers, the group now holds its monthly open mic show at the Mira Theater at 51 Daniels Avenue in Vallejo. Ayers hosted the show from 2008 to 2018, passing the torch in 2018 to Vallejo’s third poet laureate Jeremy Snyder. DJ Keith Thompson took over as host in 2023. Ayers and Thompson are among the honorees at the 23rd annual Vallejo Community Kwanzaa on December 30th at the Vallejo Naval and Historical Museum.

Since 2018 poetry aficionados can enjoy spoken word broadcast live on community radio on KZCT 89.5 FM with the Art Beat Poetry Hour which airs at 10:30 AM on Thursdays. On the second Thursday of the month Nina Serrano’s Literary Dialogues airs interviews with published poets. On the fourth Thursday of the month Bay Area poets take turns at the mic, reading their pieces live on air, open mic style. 

Poetry Speakeasy is the newest performance opportunity for local spoken word artists, happening every other Monday at 7 PM at Chris Club, a 21+ venue located at 656 Benicia Road in Vallejo. Remo Valentino founded the poetry open mic in April 2023. 

Several poets laureate on municipal, state, national scale have lived in Solano County, including Tracy K. Smith (U.S. Poet Laureate, 2017-2019), Dr. Henry Meade Bland (California Poet Laureate, 1929-1931), Edwin Markham (Oregon Poet Laureate, 1923-1931), Dwayne Parish (Richmond Poet Laureate, 2012-2014), Dorsetta Hale (Pacifica Poet Laureate, 2014-2016) and Ayodele Nzinga, (Poet Laureate of Oakland, 2021-2023). Who knows, maybe you’ll be next?

Vallejo Poetry Society was founded in 2018 by Erika Snyder, Daniel Badiali, and D.L. Lang to serve as a resource for local poets. We encourage you to join our mailing list and follow us on social media for the most up to date event announcements, networking with other poets, and publication opportunities.
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