My term as poet laureate has come to an end. The current Vallejo Poet Laureate Jeremy Snyder, the host of Poetry by the Bay, has taken office. The future is in good hands! You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Speech from 1/12/2020
When I started writing poetry 25 years ago I never imagined my private writings would make me a public figure, let alone a poet laureate. Shortly after I had my debut performance in 2014, I received two unbelievable fortune cookies. They said, “You will be a successful entertainer.” and “The world will soon be ready to receive your talents.” Thank you all for making these words ring true.
I wouldn’t be here without all of you. I did not get here alone. You’re all standing here beside me. That camaraderie is one thing I enjoyed the most over the past two and a half years. To every fellow artist in this room, it was my greatest honor just to walk among you.
I also appreciated the chance to use my gift for a higher cause whether it was raising money for the peace project or hearing the community roaring “We march!” at me during the women’s march. To everyone who asked me to perform and every poet who said yes to opportunity when I asked, I am grateful for you. You know who you are.
Instead of a salary you have given me more love than my heart could ever hold.
Between being announced as Vallejo’s second ever poet laureate on July 28th, 2017 and December 9th, 2019, D.L. Lang gave 141 public performances in 18 cities across California, including traveling to:
Book Passage in Corte Madera; AAUW’s Voices of Change, Gallery 621, Benicia Plein Air, Arts Benicia, Benicia First Tuesday Poets, and Rosanna’s in Benicia; My Word Open Mic, Poetry Express, Pegasus Books, and Revolution Books in Berkeley; Gears Turning, Bird and Beckett Books, and Grattan Elementary School in San Francisco; Live Poets Society in Orinda; Congregation Beth Sholom and Napa Bookmine in Napa; Solano County Library Foundation’s Why Poetry Matters in Fairfield; Marin Poetry Center Traveling Show in Novato and San Rafael; Women of Rodef Sholom in San Rafael; San Mateo County Fair’s Poets Speak Forum; Bay Area Generations in Oakland; Alameda County Fair Poetry Day in Pleasanton; Alameda Summer Arts Fair in Alameda; Fish Bowl Poetry in Monterey; Bay Area Poets Laureate Gathering in Millbrae, and California Poet Laureate Dana Gioia’s historic Gathering of California’s Poets Laureate in Los Angeles.
Events and organizations in Vallejo, including for:
Solidarity with Charlottesville, Queer Words Vallejo, Families Belong Together, Women Building Vallejo Summit, Vallejo March for Peace & Justice, Participatory Budgeting, International Peace Day, Flyaway Festival, Vallejo United Against Hatred & Anti-Semitism, Unity Day, Vallejo SOUP, the McCune Symposium, Voices of the Season, the Vallejo Peace Project’s Speak Up For Peace, Jews of Vallejo and their Fabulous Friends’ Hanukkah & Hilarity, Resilient by Design, Coal Sheds Art Studios Books Unbound Show, Solano County Fair, and Ode to Labor at Georgia Galleria. She hosted Poetry in Notion with Jeff Kingman, and regularly performed at Poetry by the Bay and on Art Beat Poetry Hour on KZCT.
She interviewed and performed for both BAJABA Jazzline’s Poetry Month and Nina Serrano’s Poet to Poet on KPFA radio, and on Art Beat on KZCT radio. She organized and hosted the JFK Library’s 2018 and 2019 National Poetry Month shows, Poetry in Notion Live at the McCune, and the Verses, Voices, & Visions of Vallejo Anthology Launch.
She served as a judge for the Solano County Library’s Write On! teen poetry contest, Poetry Out Loud, the Joel Fallon Poetry Scholarship, Vallejo Poetry Slam, and the 2019 Solano County Fair Talent Show. During her tenure as laureate she won 15 county fair ribbons, including Best in Class in World Unity, Equality and Diversity Creative Writing at the 2018 Marin County Fair, Best in Class in Moonscapes Haiku at the 2019 Marin County Fair, 1st Place in Explore California State Parks at the 2019 Alameda County Fair, and 1st Place in Free Form Poetry at the 2018 San Mateo County Fair.
As her official poet laureate project she edited an anthology featuring 43 writers entitled Verses, Voices & Visions of Vallejo created as a fundraiser for the Vallejo Peace Project which was released to a record breaking crowd in the Joseph Room. During this time she wrote over 200 new poems, her poetry was also published by ReformJudaism.org, Marin Poetry Center Anthology Vol. XXI, Light & Shadow, A Poet’s Siddur, Poets are Heroes magazine and she released three new poetry collections, Resting on my Laurels, The Cafe of Dreams, and Midnight Strike.
She spoke about the work of Alicia Ostriker and Emma Lazarus for AAUW’s Voices of Change in Benicia. She created two poems using vocabulary suggested by students at Grattan School in San Francisco. She spoke about the future of poetry and her role as poet laureate at the San Mateo County Fair’s Poets Speak Forum. She gave the invocation at the 2019 Women Building Vallejo Summit. She participated in 2019 Independent Bookstore Day at Bookshop Benicia, and organized Unity Day 2018’s Up Bay Poetry Showcase and at her festival booth visitors contributed to a community poem.
She also regularly curated a newsletter, websites and social media pages to connect and inform local poets of opportunities, and created Vallejo Poetry Society with Erika Snyder. To promote poetry she also funded the creation of flyers, buttons, magnets, pens, and stickers to distribute at readings.
Vallejo Poetry Anthology: Verses, Voices, & Visions of Vallejo
Verses, Voices, & Visions of Vallejo features 43 writers and was released on March 13th, 2019 with a reading at the Vallejo JFK Library in the Joseph Room with proceeds benefitting the Vallejo Peace Project. A record-breaking number of people showed up, and we sold out of books. It is available at Bookshop Benicia, Alibi Bookshop, and online book retailers.
This project successfully to shone a light on the many other talented poets in our community.
I would like to thank the committee which is sponsored by the Solano County chapter of the Links and the Vallejo Community Arts Foundation for choosing me as the 2nd Vallejo Poet Laureate. It was truly an honor and a dream come true to be recognized for my passion, and to use it to give back to this beautiful city that I have called home since 2014. Vallejo, you have lived up to your nickname. You truly are The City of Opportunity.
Inaugural Poet Laureate Genea Brice is an incredible poet and a truly inspiring and kind person who I’ve had the pleasure of hearing many times. I was honored to follow in her footsteps. You all should run out and purchase a copy of her book, A Way With Words: Poems, Prose, and Other Masterpieces, Book 1! (Seriously, do that now. I’ll wait.)
I composed a poem about Vallejo and read it at Genea’s end-of-term celebration. Click to watch my reading of the poem “Vallejo, California” on 7.28.2017
Someday, perhaps decades from now, colleges in whatever form they take may be offering courses such as “The Work of D.L. Lang: An Exploration of Early 21st Century Metaphors.” I wonder if she’d be pleased? Probably not. What professor could understand her work as well as she does? — Richard Bloch
A special congratulations to OU Film and Media Studies grad DL Lang on being named the 2017-2019 Poet Laureate for Vallejo, Cali.! –University of Oklahoma College of Arts and Sciences
I am now proud to announce that Diana is now the 2017-2019 Poet Laureate of Vallejo, California. So congratulations to her for her latest poetry honor. We will be reading much more poetry from her in the future and maybe another Grey song will be created from her great poetry works. –Greg “Grey” Perkins
I sent in my application for the Vallejo Poet Laureate on April 18th after the encouragement of friends, doctors, and acquaintances, and then I waited… It was a complete surprise to me, when on July 21st, I received an email from the Vallejo Poet Laureate Committee:
CONGRATULATIONS!!! You are the new Poet Laureate for the City of Vallejo!! We know that you will continue the wonderful example set by our Inaugural Poet Laureate, Genea Brice, and we look forward to the new ideas that you expressed in your cover letter. Your appointment will be announced on Friday, July 28, 2017, in the McCune Room, JFK Library, Lower Level.