El Dorado Arts Council has inaugurated a Poet Laureate program for El Dorado County.  This post, officially appointed by a conferring institution, is bestowed on a noted poet to honor his or her body of work and to celebrate poetry as an art form.

Taylor Graham was chosen by a panel of literary experts because of the caliber of her work, her engagement with poets and writers in the community, and the critical acclaim her work has garnered.

The role of the Poet Laureate of El Dorado County entails a two-year term beginning July 1, 2016, and ending June 30, 2018. The term will include the composition of several “occasional poems” per year, to be presented or read at public events, and a commitment to participate in El Dorado County’s Poetry Out Loud programs for high school students.

Poet Laureate Taylor Graham 
and Supervisor Brian VeerKamp
Poet Laureate Taylor Graham and Supervisor Brian VeerKamp

On Tuesday, April 19, the El Dorado County Board of Supervisors, on the recommendation of Supervisor Brian Veerkamp, presented Taylor Graham with a proclamation that recognized her in this honorary capacity.

With the launch of this program, El Dorado County becomes the 31st county in California (among 58) to boast a Poet Laureate.

Taylor Graham first realized her interest in poetry and literature when introduced to Shakespeare in her 10th grade English class at Wm S. Hart High School in Newhall. She majored in German with a French minor at Cal Lutheran College in Thousand Oaks, then went to USC for a master's in comparative literature. She spent a year in the Fulbright Program at Freiburg, Germany, and returned to USC as a Woodrow Wilson scholar. She has also worked on a newspaper as a reporter and photographer. In 1972 she married Hatch Graham and they set off for his Forest Service tour in Alaska. Graham has had thousands of poems printed in poetry magazines, journals, newspapers, and anthologies, and a number of books of poetry.

Taylor is very proud of her inclusion in the anthology California Poetry: from the Gold Rush to the present. Her poems have also appeared in Rattlesnake Review, Medusa’s Kitchen, America, The Iowa Review, The New York Quarterly, Poet Lore, Poetry International, Southern Humanities Review, and elsewhere. Her book The Downstairs Dance Floor (Texas Review Press, 2006) was awarded the Robert Phillips Poetry Chapbook Prize. Graham is active in two local poetry groups, Tuesday@Two and Red Fox Underground. In addition, Graham has trained German Shepherds for search-and-rescue for 40 years, and has responded as a volunteer to hundreds of searches for missing people.