A few comments, if I may, regarding the poet laureate selection.
The application process was far too complex. I needed help from a friend, extremely competent with computers, just to figure out and complete it. I should add that it was also very difficult for her. Perhaps it could be handled and processed in a much simpler, user-friendly manner in the future. Apparently, one judge made the final decision. Since “personality” and “performance skills” were part of the criteria, it bothers me that not one of the finalists, except for the person selected, was given the benefit of an interview. How does one assess “personality” and “performance skills” from an application?
Moreover, during the past 30 years of attending or featuring at every conceivable poetry venue in Laguna, I have rarely, if ever, seen one council member, city or arts official, in attendance. This is why there has been controversy over the selection.
The vetting process, such as it was, seemed incomplete. There are many talented poets and writers in Laguna Beach, and they’ve been here for many years. The “godmother” of Laguna poets, Marta Mitrovich, an actress as well as a fine poet, brought major names to Laguna between the mid-70’s and early 90’s, including Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Allen Ginsberg, Charles Bukowski, and Gregory Corso, among many others. Although not officially acknowledged, she was our first poet laureate. She was also a friend and mentor, as well as a source of constant inspiration.
I hope that the year ahead will include gatherings of all poets and language artists in Laguna, as well as an abiding and respectful bow to the many artists who began Laguna Poets more than 50 years ago, passed the torch, and are directly responsible for its existence today.
John Gardiner, Laguna Beach
The author is co-host of Laguna Poets, who meet from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Laguna Beach library on the first and third Saturday every month.