El Cerrito native named city’s new poet laureate

Photo courtesy of the City of El Cerrito.

By Kathy Chouteau 

Acclaimed poet and native resident, Tess Taylor, is El Cerrito’s 2024 Poet Laureate, according to the City. Her term will run April 1, 2024 through March 31, 2025 and she is the fourth person to serve in this role.

As poet laureate, Taylor’s sights are set on enhancing opportunities for El Cerrito students and others by fostering creativity, building skills and establishing valuable connections. She is particularly passionate about championing El Cerrito High School’s young student writers.

“I plan to pair student writers and editors with professional counterparts in the Bay Area community so that they can build connections and we can cultivate the next generation of writers,” said Taylor. 

When it comes to her own works, Taylor has published five poetry books, among them “Work and Days,” named a top book of poetry in 2016 by The New York Times; “Rift Zone,” counted as a best book of 2020 by the Boston Globe; and “Last West: Roadsongs for Dorothea Lange,” which appeared in the Dorothea Lange: Words and Pictures exhibit at New York City’s Museum of Modern Art.

Taylor, who is a member of the Ashland University MFA program’s Creative Writing faculty, will bring her long history in education to light in her new role. She will look to lead workshops for all levels of writers and will connect El Cerrito’s student body with the greater Bay Area literary community.

El Cerrito’s new poet laureate holds a B.A. in English and Urban Studies from Amherst College, as well as an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Boston University and an M.A. in Journalism from New York University.

It is my mission as an artist to build the arts ecosystem, support emerging writers and encourage creativity,” said Taylor.