IN THIS ECONOMY, you've got to keep yourself open to all opportunities. That's why I thought I'd apply to be Poet Laureate of Santa Clara County.
At first glance the position, created last November, looks like a plum job. Here's some info from the county press release on it:
"The Poet Laureate's role is to elevate poetry in the consciousness of Santa Clara County residents." Nowhere to go but up.
"The Poet Laureate will be an honorary two-year position." This is better job security than most people have these days. However: "The Poet Laureate will not be considered an employee of Santa Clara County and will continue to have individual pursuits." These pursuits may include gardening, jazz, sipping espressos or launching your own startup.
So far so good, but reading further I noticed a few snags. For one, the Poet Laureate's duties include reading "appropriate works at the annual State of the County ceremony and at least four selected county-sponsored events, dedications, or memorials per year." Did they say *appropriate* works? Because that really cuts into my writing style.
Pay was another issue. I was hoping for something on the order of $120,000 a year -- you know, the normal wage needed to get by in this county (Web Link). But an aide to Supervisor Liz Kniss told reporters the job comes with a $4,000 stipend. While this is more money than anyone hitherto has ever made writing poetry, it still doesn't quite cut it, given the bohemian lifestyle I was planning on taking up.
The final blow came when I read the following: "The individual [must] be a Santa Clara County resident of at least five years who has been published or recognized for poetry and literary contributions." For me this is a "no" on all counts. Although I could probably arrange to get "published or recognized" for my poetry pretty quickly (there are perks to being an editor), I'll never manage to live within Santa Clara County for five years by the application deadline, which is next week.
It's too bad, especially since I was going to treat you to my latest work. It begins, "There once was a man from Nantucket ..."
Still, there are sure to be plenty of qualified applicants out there. Those interested in becoming Santa Clara County's first-ever Poet Laureate can obtain information and applications from the county Web site, www.sccgov.org (look for the link in the category labeled "Hot Items"), or by calling (408) 998-2787 or writing firstname.lastname@example.org. More information also is available here: Web Link.
The application deadline is 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 17. Somehow, the Board of Supervisors -- noted for its literary criticism -- will make its selection by March 24.