Author Archives: Sally Ashton

About Sally Ashton

Poet, writer, teacher, editor, moon-watcher. Check my bio page, "About," for the full bank account.

Transition: Handing off!

Hand Passing Baton, Motion BlurWhat a privilege it’s been for me to serve poetry and You, the residents of Santa Clara County, as your Poet Laureate these past nearly three years! It’s been a blast, and I think we accomplished a lot of good things together: the Favorite Poems project, Poetry on the Move, our beautiful Invention: Poetry on the Move Anthology,  as well as readings, talks, and events, all the ways that our paths have crossed. Unforgettable.

Thanks so much for the opportunity to get to know you, for your kind attention, for your time and support, and most of all for your love of poetry that helps make our County, and the world, thriving and vital. And keeps the little wheels turning in my heart.

You are in good hands! Expect to hear from Santa Clara County Poet Laureate David Perez sometime very soon. He’ll give the blog a new look, and I know he has more in store for you than that. Stay tuned.

In the meantime, if you’d like to keep up with my shenanigans, you can check in at The Bloggery ( where I’ll be posting my event calendar and various musings in the days ahead. Follow the blog, and you’ll get updates as they appear.

One of my favorite poems at  times of transitions such as this is Emily Dickinson’s #76. The poem speaks to the excitement and mystery of leaving the known world, whether on a real journey or a journey of the imagination.

Exultation is the going
Of an inland soul to sea,
Past the houses—past the headlands—
Into deep Eternity—

Bred as we, among the mountains,
Can the sailor understand
The divine intoxication
Of the first league out from land?

But as in all good things, “going” is both happy and sad. As David and I sail out on our next adventures, he as Laureate, me as poet and friend, I know we both look forward to seeing you soon at upcoming events. Cheers!

Sally Ashton
Santa Clara County Poet Laureate
2011-2013, Over and out!



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This just in: New Poet Laureate!

Santa Clara County poet laureateDavid Perez Named Santa Clara County Poet Laureate

SANTA CLARA COUNTY, CALIF.—Today, the County of Santa Clara Board of Supervisors appointed David Perez to the honorary post of Santa Clara County Poet Laureate for a two year term (January 14, 2014 – December 21, 2015).  Perez was recommended to the Board following the call for applications, and a two step review process organized by the County and Silicon Valley Creates.

“David Perez brings a wealth of creative experience to the post of PoetLaureate,” said County Executive Jeffrey V. Smith.  “He will do a fine job in helping to make poetry accessible to the community.”
    Perez is a poet, writer and educator. He is a professor of English at Ohlone College and has toured throughout the United States and Canada to give readings and book signings. He is the author of Love in a Time of Robot Apocalypse under Write Bloody Publishing, and his poem Surgir appears on the San Jose Mexican Heritage Plaza Founder’s Plaque.
    “I’d like to express my gratitude to the Santa Clara Board of Supervisors and to Silicon Valley Creates for establishing the position of Poet Laureate. They have opened new opportunities to create and celebrate poetry,” said Perez. “I intend to help Santa Clara County’s poetic voices become more visible to the communities in which they belong in the hopes that poetry’s ability to help us connect, transform and heal might be more widely accessible.”
   In July 2012, Perez was voted “Best Author in the Bay Area” in the San Francisco Bay Guardian’s annual readers’ poll. He also received the Arts Council Silicon Valley Fellowship for Literary Art in April 2011 for his contribution to empowering Silicon Valley communities through the arts.
   “David Perez represents the remarkable energy, diversity and creativity of our region through his power of language,” said Connie Martinez, CEO of Silicon Valley Creates. “I look forward to experiencing his genuine ability to bring poetry to life for audiences of all kinds as our next Poet Laureate.”
   Perez will take the two-year post in January 2014.  He is the third poet laureate to be appointed by the County of Santa Clara. Nils Peterson was the County’s first Poet Laureate (2009-2011), and Sally Ashton served as the second Poet Laureate of Santa Clara County (2011-2013).
     Perez holds a Master of Arts degree in Creative Writing from Goddard College and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Literature from University of California, Santa Cruz.

And . . .Here I am with the new “PL” at the San Jose Museum of Art where he’ll be hosting this year’s Poetry Invitational on April 17th. Don’t miss it. This reading of poems based on current museum exhibits was launched by first Poet Laureate, Nils Peterson. It’s a fabulous tradition and is sure to be again this year.


Congratulations, David!

I’ll be making one last post here before handing off the blog to David so stay tuned, tell your friends, and follow that blog!

Yours in poetry~

Sally Ashton
Santa Clara County Poet Laureate



Filed under Laureate's News, On Poetry

This just in: Laureate News

One of these days the post will say “new poet laureate” instead of “poet laureate’s news,” (hint: tomorrow’s County Board of Supervisors’ meeting: 9am!!), but for now, there’s this gem.

Those of you who contributed to Nils’ Peterson’s “Family Album” poem during his term as the first Poet Laureate of Santa Clara County will be interested to note that the poem has been put in video form. Here, I’ll let you read the rest, below.

And, don’t forget next Tuesday’s event at Montalvo. Details can be found here.

OFF-THE-PAGE_2-6-14See you “there.” 😉

Sally Ashton
Santa Clara County Poet Laureate


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Filed under Favorite Poem, Laureate's News, On Poetry

And then there are: Pears

Here’s something for your 2014 calendar. Check out the Montalvo Arts Center website for full event details, but I’ll be reading with this fabulous lineup and would love to see you there:

An Evening of Music and Poetry

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Tuesday, January 21, 2014, 6:30 p.m. 9 p.m.

Enjoy a night of music and poetry in the historic Villa! 

The evening will include a performance by newly formed Ensemble San Francisco, poetry readings by Jeffrey Levine, poet and founder of Tupelo Press, and Sally Ashton, Santa Clara County Poet Laureate (2011-2013) and Lucas Artists Literary Fellow. Books and CDs will be available for sale. The evening begins with a small reception and cash bar.

TICKET PRICES : General: $15 | Students w/ID: $7*

Sally Ashton
Santa Clara County Poet Laureate


Filed under Laureate's News, On Poetry

It’s a holiday reading: Well whoop-tee-do!



Thursday, December 19, 2013, 7:00pm
Featured Reader: Nils Peterson
with Sally Ashton, Kelly Cressio-Moeller, and Dennis Richardson

Nils Peterson, author of numerous books of poetry and former Poet Laureate of Santa Clara County, will host a Christmas Reading featuring The 2nd Drama Quartet in a reading of A Child’s Christmas in Wales by Dylan Thomas, with Sally Ashton, Kelly Cressio-Moeller, Dennis Richardson and Good St. Nils himself.

Open Mic reading to follow
Willow Glen Library
1157 Minnesota Avenue, San José, CA, 95125
(408) 808-3045 or (408) 266-1361
Free and open to the public

Nils Peterson is Professor Emeritus at San Jose State University where he taught in the English and Humanities Departments. He has published poetry, science fiction, and articles on subjects as varying as golf and Shakespeare. A chapbook of poems entitled Here Is No Ordinary Rejoicing was published by No Deadlines Press, a collection of poems entitled The Comedy of Desire with an introduction by Robert Bly was published by the Blue Sofa Press, and a collection of poems entitled Driving a Herd of Moose to Durango appeared in 2005. He was nominated for a 2005 Pushcart Prize. His most recent book of poetry came out in 2011, published by Poetry Center San Jose.

If you’re looking for a last-minute gift idea, I will be bringing copies of Invention:Poems that Celebrate Who We Are and What We Do in Silicon Valley, the anthology of contributors to Poetry on the Move for your purchasing pleasure. Check out the link, above for further detail. They will be offered at a special holiday price of $15 each.


I hope to see you there.

Sally Ashton
Santa Clara County Poet Laureate

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Want to become a better poet?

It’s not just reading, writing, and workshops that make a difference. After working with the DMQ Review as an editor for the past 10 years, I have to say that the experience of reading poetry submissions and bringing them together in a publication is another invaluable tool for your poet’s toolbox. The following announcement sounds like a terrific opportunity for anyone who can attend; online options available. Yes, it’s a class offered through De Anza, but YES it’s a chance to work closely with master poet Ken Weisner. You gain  invaluable experience and course units. It’s not that big of a deal to enroll. Check it out:

 Attention poets, writers, editors, dreamers—beginning or advanced!  Students needed for our EWRT 65 De Anza class to help edit the 2014 national edition of Red Wheelbarrow. Sign up as soon as Monday, December 18th to ensure the program isn’t canceled. Tell your students and friends. Much of the course is online where we post and discuss submissions of writers from all around the country, but we also meet Monday afternoons at 4:00 on campus to discuss the better material further and vote. Some “all online” participation options; contact instructor Ken Weisner at for information about that. Students focus on whatever they wish — choose your specialty.  Discuss great fresh new works of literature, get credit for it— and no tests, quizzes or papers. What could be better than that? And then we make a book together. Lots of opportunity to learn about writing, editing, book design, and publishing in this class. Contact Ken with further questions.

More news you can use coming soon~

Sally Ashton
Santa Clara County Poet Laureate (2011-2013)

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Workshop announcement: Lisbon, Portugal July 2014


Here I am mixing it up in Lisbon with none other than Fernando Pessoa himself back in 2011 when I led a workshop there with Disquiet International Literary Program. Fernando and I were discussing the problem of heteronyms while awaiting our afternoon coffee.

I’m happy to announce that I’ll be returning to Lisbon (and Fernando!) this summer to teach another workshop and am looking for writers who might be interested in an international literary experience, one you will never forget. That’s not because of the workshop I’m leading, but because of this fantastic program and group of writers. Disquiet offers a rich literary and cultural experience. You will fall in love with Lisbon.

I can once again offer a tuition discount to people who want to work with me, so do contact me for details at

In the meantime I’m mulling over a heteronym. It feels about time for a new me.

Sally Ashton
Santa Clara County Poet Laureate

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In the meantime: A word from Billy Collins

As you know, Santa Clara County is in the process of selecting its third Poet Laureate. All is under wraps, even from me, your outgoing laureate.

But don’t go away . . .in the meantime I’ll try to keep your attention on all things poetry with occasional posts that I find of interest in the hopes that you might, too.

Case in point, this recent PBS/Jeffrey Brown interview with former U.S. Poet Laureate, Billy Collins. He shares some great thoughts on the composition of poetry.

Thanks for “staying tuned!”

Sally Ashton
Santa Clara County Poet Laureate


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Poet Laureate #3: Deadline approaching!

Anyone considering applying to be the next Santa Clara County Poet Laureate, get to it! The deadline, September 30th, approacheth. Find full details in the August 2 post, below, including how to contact me or the first Poet Laureate, Nils Peterson, for general questions.

If you have specific questions regarding the application process, please contact the folks at Arts Council Silicon Valley, now known as Silicon Valley Creates! I’ve been assured that someone named Audrey will reply to your queries as soon as possible. Use this email.

Nils and I are looking forward to the next laureate appointment to carry on the torch for poetry in Silicon Valley. We’re rooting for you.

AND, if Poet Laureate is a bit rich for your tastes, here’s another opportunity. Silicon Valley Creates is accepting applications for a variety of Artist Laureates including Emerging Artist. (scroll down). Scrolling down further you will see that they are holding a series of workshops for those interested in applying. Get busy! What are you waiting for?

Let’s keep literature and the arts thriving in Silicon Valley together. What a cool place to live. Thanks for being out there.

Sally Ashton
Santa Clara County Poet Laureate

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Call for applications: Santa Clara County Poet Laureate


Applications for the next Santa Clara County Poet Laureate are now being accepted online or by US mail through September 30th. The application process found there might show last year’s timeline, but if you scroll down, to the application link, all is in good shape. Just gather your info and submit.

If this position isn’t for you, but you know a poet who lives within Santa Clara County, who has had some success getting poems published, and who has some record of engaging with the public, please encourage them to apply.

If you think this is a way you would like to promote poetry some time in the future, keep writing, get into a workshop or writing group, and get involved in a local poetry organization so that you get a feel for working with the public.

And, make sure you show up for the next Laureate’s events! They need your support and you will have even a better sense of what’s involved in this role as an advocate for poetry and the arts.

It’s a big county; there should be a lot of poets out there with a desire to serve in the public sphere. If you have questions about what it means to be poet laureate, you may contact either the first SCCo Poet Laureate, Nils Peterson, or me, Sally Ashton, by email, listed below. You may also review my schedule  from the past two years, above, to better understand the variety of opportunities to connect with people in the county around poetry you might experience.

If this is something you feel you can do: Apply!

If you feel this is an important role and know someone who would be great: Encourage them to apply!

For specific questions regarding the position, contact one of us.

Nils Peterson, Santa Clara County Poet Laureate (2009-2011)
Sally Ashton, Santa Clara County Poet Laureate (2011-2013)

Pass it on and thanks for your help.

Sally Ashton
Santa Clara County Poet Laureate

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