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Shout out to the County: Send me your Favorite Poem!

I invite any resident of Santa Clara County, non-writers and writers, to participate in the creation of an online collection of poems that reflects and celebrates our personal experiences with poetry. Whether it’s a poem you first read in school or one you came across at a particular moment in your life, let’s take note of how poetry has had an impact on us, large or small.

A favorite poem is just that: some poem(not one of your own, please) that has touched you in some memorable way that only you can describe. Simply let me know what makes the poem your favorite, why it moved you, and how, in less than 100 words. That might be the hardest part! See “A Favorite Poem” page, above, for a sample from me.

It might take some time to reflect, to flip back through the pages of your memory until you put your finger on it, or the poem might leap quickly to mind. Did you know you can search on a poem’s remembered line and often discover the entire text and writer?

In his book Myth and Mind, Harvey Birenbaum wrote that myth makes the world look like what it feels like. I take this to be true of poetry, too, the poet shaping language for effect, for the sound it makes, for the memory it triggers, for the sense of lived life it creates. Sometimes you come across one that seems just how it is.

I’m hoping to involve any resident who has found such an experience with a poem at some point in life, especially someone who would never consider writing one. Let’s discover and celebrate the many ways poetry has made a difference, how just a few lines make the world look how it feels at times. Who knows, you might be introducing someone to their own new favorite poem.

Submissions accepted through May 31 via email at
Afterward, I will post a selection of Favorites over the next few months.

Submission Guidelines:

  • Each participant should select one poem by a well-known author, a favorite poem of yours, not one you’ve written, that has proven meaningful at some point in your life.
  • List the exact title and author’s name with the text.
  • Include a brief(100 word max) written explanation of what the poem means to you. (Again, see my sample on the “Favorite Poem” page above).
  • Send your Favorite Poem to the Poet Laureate by May 31, 2011 via email at, with a subject line, “Favorite Poem-Your Name.”
  • Please also include your name, age, city, and occupation with your submission.

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