One year as Poet Laureate

On October 10th, 2017 I performed “Visions” to a packed city council chamber, and received my proclamation as Vallejo’s Poet Laureate. I wish to express gratitude to the musicians at my synagogue who sparked this journey from the page to the stage, to my predecessor Genea Brice, to everyone at Vallejo Community Arts Foundation and the Links who was involved in the selection process, and to all of the organizations who have asked me to perform or write for them since then. I look forward to the year to come!

Prior to becoming laureate I had released nine books between 2011 and 2017, my poem “Prayer for the Shomrim” was published in the Jewish Journal, and many pieces had been honored with awards at the Solano County Fair, Alameda County Fair, and the Marin County Fair. I had been a featured act at the Benicia First Tuesday Poets, Poetry Day at the Alameda County Fair, the Marin Poetry Center’s Travelling Show in Fairfax and San Rafael, the Vallejo Man March Peace Rally, and Rodef Sholom’s Beit Cafe.

I had served as a guest host for Poetry by the Bay and Poetry in Notion, and served as a judge for the Solano County Poetry Out Loud Competition. Grey, Jon Carrube, and Fred Ross-Perry had also created beautiful songs inspired by or using my words, I had interviewed for the online radio show Duck Soop, and between 2015 and 2017 I had been reading quite regularly as part of the open mic at both Poetry by the Bay and Poetry in Notion. In 2016 Kirkus Reviews had deemed Poet Loiterer a collection of “Poems that embrace spoken-word rhythms and hippie principles, inspired by the author’s love of music and nature, her peace activism, and her gratitude for Jewish community.”

Since my being announced as the second laureate on July 28, 2017, I began performing at numerous events both in Vallejo and the larger San Francisco bay area. The following dates from that July announcement until October 10, 2018:

During my first year as Vallejo poet laureate I judged the poetry portion of Solano County Library Teen Writing Contest Write On!, judged for the second consecutive year the Solano County Poetry Out Loud recital, presented on notable Jewish female poets for the American Association of University Women’s Voices of Change event at the Benicia Library, and taught self-publishing to the Benicia First Tuesday Poets.

I have performed and in some cases written poems to order for the Resilent by Design environmentalists, for Queer Words Vallejo, Solidarity with Charlottesville, the Vallejo March for Peace and Justice, International Peace Day, Unity Day, Families Belong Together, the Flyaway Festival, the Joel Fallon Poetry Scholarship, the San Mateo County Fair, Vallejo’s Participatory Budgeting committee, Vallejo Soup, and the Solano County Library Foundation.

I’ve written and performed ekphrastic poetry at Gallery 621, Arts Benicia, and Coal Shed Studios. I’ve also prayed with my words at Congregation Rodef Sholom’s Sisterhood Shabbat and the broadcast of A Poet’s Siddur book launch, and even had one of my poems travel to Israel. In addition to hosting Poetry in Notion, I’ve also performed a poem or two at open mics such as Poetry by the Bay, the Benicia First Tuesday Poets, Rosanna’s, Poetry Inside Out, and My Word Open Mic.

I’ve also organized and hosted poetry events at the Solano County’s John F. Kennedy Library’s Poetry Month, Poetry in Notion at the McCune room, and the first Unity Day Vallejo Poetry Showcase. I was a featured poet at My Word Open Mic in Berkeley, Rosanna’s in Benicia, the Marin Poetry Center’s traveling show at the Novato library, on KPFA for Cover to Cover Open Book Poet to Poet / Literary Dialogues with Nina Serrano, and on KZCT’s Art Beat.

Thanks to the generosity of the Vallejo Poetry Society I was able to attend the historic Gathering of California’s Poets Laureate in Tujunga, California. There I performed “Headline Antidote” by memory to a crowd featuring at least fifty other poets laureate from around the state. The event was filmed for a documentary, and we all received certificates of appreciation from both the California State Senate and the California Arts Council. 

In addition to compiling and editing Verses, Voices, & Visions of Vallejo, my poetry has been featured in three anthologies: Watch this Space” was published in A Poet’s Siddur, four of my poems appear in Light & Shadow, and Marin Poetry Center Anthology, Vol 21. printed my poem “Is.” 

My poem “Turning” appeared on ReformJudaism.org, the Benicia Herald’s Poetry Corner printed five of my poems, and “Use Elevator to Exit Reality” was published in Poets are Heroes Magazine. 

I also won Best in Class at the 2018 Marin County Fair for Creative Writing in World Unity, Equality, and Diversity for “7 Words You Cannot Say in a ‘Free’ Country” as well as First Place in Free Form Poetry for “The Choice” at the 2018 San Mateo County Fair. Some of my books have been added to the catalogue of the Public Library of Enid & Garfield County, Solano County’s JFK Library, Bookshop Benicia, and the Vallejo Bookstore.

This year also saw the release of three books: Resting on My Laurels and The Cafe of Dreams which contain many of my poems written to order as a laureate, and the compilation chapbook Wanderings that contains many poems that were awarded ribbons and rosettes at Solano, Marin, and Alameda county fairs between 2015 and 2017 as well as other favorites.

D.L. is one of the most active California laureates leading Vallejo community and library poetry functions and writing for its civic and public events.  Her own poetic work is easy to embrace, understand, and feel. D.L. Lang helps carry the banner for social change to create the loving world we want with liberty, justice, housing, safety, food, education, healthcare, and poetry for all.

Nina Serrano 

Realistic Poetry International’s 2018 reviews of my work:

About Dragonfly Tomorrows & Dog-eared Yesterdays:

An ingenious visionary and virtuous human moral-compass, Lang makes writing poetry seem effortless, hypnotizing us with fantasy-like analogies that cleverly unravel meaningful and philosophical multi-layered themes. Each theme underlines and mirrors many different colors and faces of life and humanity.

About Armor Against the Dawn: 

The collection is layered with expressive thought and candid revelations of the poet’s position on multiple current day social events.  Insightful, as well as bold, the collection is infused with an underlying theme of a continual searching for answers, for understanding, and for resolution.  

D.L. Lang is the current Poet Laureate of Vallejo, California. She is the author of ten books, and one spoken word album. Her poems have been published in the Benicia Herald, Jewish Journal, Poets Are Heroes Magazine, the Benicia First Tuesday Poets anthology Light & Shadow, and in A Poet’s Siddur: Friday Evening Liturgy through the Eyes of Poets. Lang has been a featured act at several events including the Vallejo Man March, Unity Day, Solidarity with Charlottesville, and International Peace Day. She is also a regular at Poetry by the Bay and leads the Poetry in Notion poetry circle. She has won ribbons and rosettes at the Alameda, Marin, San Mateo, and Solano County Fairs. Her poems have been transformed into songs, liturgy, and used as a means to advocate for causes.

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