Kate Buckley was approved as the first poet laureate of Laguna Beach by the City Council this week.
The Art Commission chose Buckley from among four applicants. Laguna College of Art and Design professor Grant Hier headed the selection process.
A local resident, Buckley’s duties will include creation of a new body of work celebrating the city, and she will be paid a $10,000 yearly stipend. She did not return calls seeking comment.
Buckley originally hails from Kentucky and became inspired to become a writer by listening to stories of the old South at her grandmother’s knee. Numerous publications such as “The Bellingham Review,” “New Southerner,” and “North American Review” have published her work, and her short story “The Gods of Flight” was nominated for the 2013 Bridgeport Prize.
Buckley is also an abstract artist whose paintings appear in private and corporate collections and at Laguna Mercantile, where she was an artist in residence. She also writes spot-on blogs about life in Orange County, as informed by her Southern roots.
She founded Women Poets of Orange County, conducted workshops for the Orange County Writers Group and introduced future generations of writers and poets to her craft at the Boys and Girls Club. She is also a certified life and corporate coach and heads up Buckley Media Group.
Other applicants included actor, teacher, poet John Gardiner, best known locally for his Heisler Park performances of “Shakespeare’s Fool;” and Ellen Girardeau Kempler, an avid proponent of literary festivals and winner of multiple poetry contests held by the Laguna library.
Best known as a haven for the visual arts, Laguna Beach also fosters a literary scene. There are poetry readings, workshops and groups such as the Third Street Writers and Laguna Poets.