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Manteca position offers $2,500 annual stipend
A youth accessing books in the Manteca Library.

Manteca is looking for someone to help expand literacy programs and enrich the cultural fabric of the city.

And it needs someone who can give such a venture poetic justice.

It’s the bottom line per se of the position of being the official Poet Laureate for the City of Manteca.

It is being supported by a non-profit, private sector grant from the Library & Literacy Foundation of San Joaquin County

“We’re looking for someone with heart and passion,” said Recreation & Community Services Manager Brandy Clark.

It is designed as a three-year program.

The person selected would not just pen poetry in the form of an annual official City of Manteca poem that would be presented to the City Council. They’d also work with community services staff to develop events to promote literacy arts.

“It’s something we don’t have enough of in Manteca,” noted Clark. “It will also help bridge the gap between library services and recreation.”

As such, it underscores the city’s effort to step-up offerings both in terms of cultural and recreational events while at the same time working to promote literacy throughout the community.

There is a $2,500 annual stipend for the person selected.

In addition, the grant allows for up to $2,500 to cover costs such as materials needed to stage events or outreach endeavors.

The Poet Laureate program as designed will:

*Be responsible for creating and presenting poetry at City Council meetings, community events, schools, and other public venues.

*Serve as a resource for local poets and literacy organizations.

*Provide guidance and support for the development of literary arts in the community.

*Work with the Manteca Library staff to encourage children to write poetry.

*Present an annual official City of Manteca poem to the City Council.

“(The Poet Laureate will) promote and celebrate the arts, support local poets, and enhance the cultural vibrancy of the community,” Clark pointed out when the council accepted the grant in April.

The city, which did not get an applications at the time, is relaunching it’s search.

The parameters for applicants are basically being 18 years or older, having a commitment to promoting awareness or  enjoyment of poetry, be a resident or employed in Manteca for at least two consecutive years, and pass a background check among other things.

For more information, contact the Manteca Community & Recreation Services at 209-456-8600.

The Library & Literacy Foundation for San Joaquin County founded in 1990 that is providing the $15,000 grant does exactly what its name implies through community outreach.

It’s highest profile event has been the annual Trivia Bee that in recent years has been conducted at the Stockton Arena.

Over the years the foundation has raised funds for adult literacy efforts  plus summer and family reading programs as well as other programs promoting literacy and reading such as Training Wheels, Family Day in the Park, Big Read, One Book One San Joaquin, Reach Out and Read, and Cultural Crossroads.

They also have donated funds for books and materials for local libraries.

Stockton, Tracy, Lodi, and Ripon have also accepted the grants with the three larger cities already having a poet laureate in place.

Gov. Gavin Newsom appointed Lee Herrick of Fresno as California’s official poet laureate while  Ada Limon is the United States’ current poet laureate.

Though the concept is old school given it harkens back to 1616 when England’s King James I granted a pension to poet Ben Jonson, poetry to share culture and literacy has been a staple of the American landscape for generations as well as part of the cultural fabric across the globe.

In recent years, poetry slams have gained traction among teens and young people. They involve competition, complete with elimination rounds, for the reading and/or performance of poetry that is almost always original.

That said, poetry and music — from folk and cowboy songs  to the Great American Songbook to rap — have been intertwined for thousands of years.


To contact Dennis Wyatt, email