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County's new poet laureate is from Petaluma

  • Bill Vartnaw

Petaluma poet Bill Vartnaw has been selected to be Sonoma County's seventh poet laureate.

The announcement was made Monday by the Sonoma County Poet Laureate Selection Committee.

Born and raised in Petaluma, Bill Vartnaw has spent his entire life in the service of poetry. He has been writing seriously for over 35 years. He founded Taurean Horn Press in 1974, and has published 14 books, including his own “In Concern: for Angels” (1984), has published 13 issues of OR magazine from various Bay Area Open Readings and two issues from Folsom Prison Poetry Workshop in 1976.

Vartnaw earned a master’s degree in poetics from New College of California in 1991. His work has appeared in various literary magazines over the last 30 years.

“He has worked unobtrusively behind-the-scenes jobs at the Petaluma Poetry Walk, helping poets who are ill or experiencing misfortune, but never seeking the spotlight himself,” said Linda Galletta of the Sebastopol Center for the Arts.

Bill lives with his wife Bridget and their many cats.

As Sonoma County’s new poet laureate, Vartnaw will be honored at a reception at 3 p.m. on Jan. 29, 2012 at the Main Library, Third and B streets, in Santa Rosa.

The poet laureate program is sponsored by the Sebastopol Center for the Arts. Every two years, a new poet laureate is selected by the committee. The poet laureate is a resident of Sonoma County whose poetry manifests a high degree of excellence, who has produced a critically acclaimed body of work, and who has demonstrated a commitment to the literary arts in Sonoma County. If chosen, the poet laureate must agree to participate from time to time in the official ceremonies and poetry readings of Sonoma County.

The poet laureate selection committee is composed of representatives from each county supervisorial district, and from Sonoma State University, Santa Rosa Junior College, Sebastopol Center for the Arts, the Cultural Arts Council and the previous poets laureate.

Consistent with tradition, the Sonoma County poet laureate will not have a formal job description, but will be encouraged to develop an agenda promoting poetry and the literary arts in Sonoma County. Organizers of various community events in Sonoma County may invite the poet laureate to participate in their events. Previous poets laureate were:

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