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Santa Monica Selects its First Poet Laureate


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By Jorge Casuso

April 4, 2024 -- Santa Monica's first poet laureate, Anne Carmack, is a "self-taught writer and multidisciplinary artist" who has published an Amazon best-selling book of poems, City officials said in a statement this week.

As poet laureate, the "mixed race, Los Angeles based" artist will create new literary works that celebrate "the spirit and the special qualities" of the city, officials said.

Carmack's work "seeks to explore themes of personal narrative, individual and cultural identity, philosophy and spirituality," City officials said in announcing her selection Tuesday.

She achieves this by "wholly embracing a wide range of media including painting, photography, filmmaking, storytelling, screenwriting, poetry & performing," officials said. "Her search for something still undefined continues."

Carmack's book of poems, “My Own Body Breathing,” was published in 2020 by Wyrd & Wyld Publishing and became "an Amazon #1 Best Seller within twenty-four hours," officials said.

On her Substack page, Carmack said that over the last few years "I felt myself pushed back to poetry, as if by an invisible hand.

"Poems have always come quickly for me -- since I was a kid," she wrote. "A spark or a sentence and I am easily off. Launched into the real work of paying attention. Of slowing down. Of saying just enough.

"It’s unlike any other creative experience that I participate in and the one that my body seems to know best. Poems give me permission to trust my gut and get real. To remind myself that I am always my own most reliable narrator."

Carmack was chosen from among 22 self-nominated candidates by the City's Poet Laureate Review Panel, made up of community members from the Arts Commission, Library Board, Friends of the Library Board, and city staff.

Developed by the City Manager in collaboration with the Library Board and Arts Commission, the Poet Laureate program will "create a new body of literary works that commemorate the diversity and vibrancy of our city," officials said.

Carmack began her two-year term on March 21 and will take part in two events during National Poetry Month in April -- a welcoming reception and workshop on April 20 and the reading of a new poem on April 27.

“We are excited to have Anne Carmack as the City’s first ever Poet Laureate,” said Library Director Erica Cuyugan. “As a long-time resident and dedicated poet/artist, Anne embodies the spirit and the soul of Santa Monica through her words and her art.

"We look forward to experiencing the inclusive, unifying, and powerful nature of poetry in all its forms with our community.”

Santa Monica is the 13th California City to create a Poet Laureate program, according to the website

Other cities include Los Angeles, Malibu, Santa Barbara, Fresno, San Diego and San Francisco. Five California Counties also have poet laureates, including Orange and Santa Clara counties.

“We are a place full of vibrant arts and culture and I am thrilled the see Santa Monica have its own poet laureate,” said Mayor Phil Brock.

“I look forward to the community events later on this month as the city commemorates April as National Poetry Month and Arts Month, as well as seeing the great contributions Anne Carmack will provide to our community.”

In announcing its selection, the City released the following poem by Carmack:

I hope this poem finds you well

unhidden, whole and


at home in a world

that welcomes you

and wraps you up in eager arms

I hope that every cake candle wish

is coming ttrue

and that every old penny

you tossed into the water

when you were still small

has paid off

I hope

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