www.montereycountyweekly.com FEBRUARY 29-MARCH 6, 2024 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY 27 LIT Rachelle Escamilla became Poet Laureate of Monterey County in January 2024, but she has been a poet much of her life. The list of programs she created over the years is incredibly long, as is the list of institutions she is affiliated with. A Chicana poet, she is an author of three books of poetry: Imaginary Animal, Me Drawing a Picture of Me and her most recent, Space Junk from the Heavenly Palace. Coming from a family of Hollister farmworkers, carrying genes and traditions of the Apache, as well as Native Americans from Mexico and with Portuguese roots, she listened to speakers of both Spanish and English and noticed how sometimes words or expressions were being used. “That made me aware of languages—mom singing songs, a lot of rhyming, oral tradition,” she explains. A teacher at San José State University told Escamilla she was a poet. That launched Escamilla on her journey. Still an undergrad, she created the Poets and Writers Coalition and Legacy of Poetry Day, programs that have continued every year since. “Poets of color, queer poets and other misfits,” she describes her community at the time. There were existing poetry groups at the college but “they were stuck up,” Escamilla says. “That was not our vibe.” Escamilla was first in her family to attend college. But that was not enough. She chose to go on to graduate school at the University of Pittsburgh, after which she went even farther— working in China at the English language Center for Creative Writing at Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou and as a founder of Literature of the Margins at the United States Consulate of Guangzhou. Between 2015-2020 Escamilla was the producer and host of the longest-running poetry radio show in the U.S., Out of Our Minds, on KKUP in Cupertino. In 2017 she arrived in Monterey County to teach at CSU Monterey Bay. “I have always wanted to live in Monterey,” she says. She loves the poetry of Robinson Jeffers. “My calendar is filling up quickly,” she says about her role as Poet Laureate. Escamilla is working with the Arts Council for Monterey County to launch an open mic series. For the upcoming National Poetry Month in April, she is planning an event that will combine poetry with, of all things, pole dancing. DANIEL DREIFUSS Rhyme and Reason Monterey County’s new poet laureate has an extensive background in the art. By Agata Pop˛eda Poet Rachelle Escamilla is a person who makes things happen. In 2018, she was a visiting scholar at the Library of Congress, among countless positions and accomplishments. 720 BROADWAY AVE. SEASIDE Call 831-899-1762 to order DINE IN / TAKEOUT / DELIVERY Great Dough Great Pizza is Thin crust & Sourdough pizzas Salads & Calzones • Pasta • Subs Draft beer on tap • Wine • Dessert Serving handmade pizzas with fresh, quality ingredients At The Oven, we believe MONTEREY’S PREMIER GERMAN CAR SPECIALISTS 249 DELA VINA AVE. MONTEREY 831.373.5355 CCREPAIRMONTEREY.COM R E P A I R 10% OFF your order with this ad Valid until 3/31/24 Taste of the World sweet & savory crepes • paninis • bagels • tea • 11th Hour coffee THE CRÉPERIE CAFÉ THE CRÉPERIE CAFÉ THE CRÉPERIE CAFÉ THE CRÉPERIE CAFÉ THE CRÉPERIE CAFÉ @ @ @ @ @ 1123 Fremont Blvd, Seaside 831-901-3900 Mon–Fri 7am–4pm (Sat & Sun 8am–4pm) Explore our expanded coffee menu featuring drinks from around the globe • Café Bombon (Spain) • Lagrima (Argentina) • Turmeric Latte (India) • Yuanyang (Hong Kong) • and more! Video Games 1st Fridays Open Mic 2nd Fridays Trivia Night 3rd Fridays