Santa Barbara Poet Laureate Earns Prestigious National Fellowship

By the Santa Barbara County Office of Arts & Culture

The Santa Barbara County Office of Arts and Culture is pleased to share that Santa Barbara Poet Laureate Emma Trelles is one of 22 poets in the United States to be recognized by the Academy of American Poets with a prestigious Poet Laureate Fellowship.

Trelles is the ninth poet laureate of Santa Barbara, California, and the first Latina poet to be appointed to this post. Trelles is the author of Tropicalia (University of Notre Dame Press), winner of the Andrés Montoya Poetry Prize and a finalist for Foreword/Indies poetry book of the year. She teaches creative writing at Santa Barbara City College, where she also coordinates the Writing Center.

Emma Trelles

Trelles shared, “I’m so grateful and honored to receive a Poet Laureate Fellowship from the Academy of American Poets, an organization deeply committed to poetry-centric programs all over the country— and to the many poets who make them happen. The fellowship is a real testimony to their faith in our creative and community work.”

As a Poet Laureate Fellow, Trelles will receive an award of a $50,000 stipend to support her public work and craft. Trelles noted the broad impact of the stipend: “For Santa Barbara, this means that we’ll see more from the Mission Poetry Series, with continued biannual readings featuring diverse poets from near and far, and in addition to new classes and public Poetry Walks in partnership with the Santa Barbara Public Library. It also supports a second year of the Alta California Chapbook Prize from Gunpowder Press, open to all Latinx poets living in California and published in bilingual editions in the spring. For me personally, the fellowship also means support and belief in my own poems and writing practice. It’s incredibly validating,” she said.

Through its Poets Laureate Fellowship program, the Academy has become the largest financial supporter of poets in the nation, awarding a total of $4.35 million in fellowships to 81 poets laureate since 2019.

About the City of Santa Barbara Poet Laureate Program:

The City of Santa Barbara Poet Laureate Program was established in 2005 to inspire and remind the local community of the power and beauty of poetry and the spoken word. The Poet Laureate is a local resident and distinguished poet tasked with seeking to advance awareness of and appreciation for literary arts and humanities within the greater Santa Barbara community. As well as being a spokesperson for the City’s literary community, the Poet Laureate promote the artistic achievements of the City of Santa Barbara through active participation in ceremonial, educational, and cultural activities in the community.

The Santa Barbara Public Library serves as the home of the Poet Laureate and a major partner in the program stewardship.

About the Santa Barbara County Office of Arts & Culture:

The Office is a Division of the County’s Community Services Department, serving as the local governmental umbrella for arts and culture projects and programs within Santa Barbara County. The Office represents a longstanding partnership between the County of Santa Barbara and the City of Santa Barbara. For over 35 years, both governments have shared resources and staff to maximize support for Santa Barbara arts and culture institutions, programs, initiatives and projects. For more information, go to


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