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Al Young is the current California State Poet Laureate and was born in Mississippi on May 31, 1939. Mr. Young has been a poet, writer, teacher and lecturer throughout his literary career and has lived most of his life in the San Francisco Bay Area. He has authored a number of books including poetry and fiction. Young has also co-edited several works including the recent two volume set, The Literature of California , which was co-edited along with California authors Jack Hicks, James D. Houston, and Maxine Hong Kingston. Mr. Young has been the recipient of numerous literary honors.
The California Poet Laureate is a Governor's appointee whose mission is to advocate for the art of poetry in classrooms and boardrooms across the state, to inspire
an emerging generation of literary artists, and to educate all Californians about the many poets and authors who have influenced our great state through creative
Over the course of a two-year term, the Poet Laureate provides six public readings in urban and rural locations across California, educates civic and state leaders about the value of poetry and creative expression, and undertakes a significant cultural project, with one of its goals being to bring poetry to students who might otherwise have little opportunity to be exposed.
The unofficial position of poet laureate was established with the appointment of Ina Donna Coolbrith on June 30, 1915. The official position of Poet Laureate of California was created by Assembly member Fran Pavley (D-Agoura Hills) under Assembly Bill 113, and was signed in 2001 by Governor Gray Davis. While the unofficial position carried a lifetime appointment, current laureates are appointed to two-year terms. After Quincy Troupe resigned from the position in 2002 for falsifying information on his resume, the position remained vacant until the appointment of Al Young by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger on May 12, 2005.
Ina D. Coolbrith was named the first State Poet Laureate by the legislature in 1915 to honor her contributions to the Panama-Pacific International Exposition.
1915 - 1928 Ina Donna Coolbrith
1929 - 1931 Dr. Henry Meade Bland
1933 - 1944 John Steven McGroarty
1953 - 1961 Gordon W. Norris
1966 - 2000 Charles Garrigus
2005 - 2008 Al Young
2008 - 2011 Carol Muske-Dukes