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Jerry Douglas Smith, San Luis Obispo’s New Poet Laureate

By Harriet Staff

From The Tribune:

Once, while hiking in the Sequoia National Forest, San Luis Obispo poet laureate Jerry Douglas Smith came face to face with a grumpy black bear.

“I came around this redwood tree and this bear was on this berm,” he recalled, no more than 10 feet away. “I surprised him…. I was in his social distance, so he was really angry.”

The enraged bear charged at Smith, then pelted down a ravine, breaking fallen pine trees with his broad chest.

As Smith joked in his poem “Close Encounters, it was “another change-your-shorts experience.”

Smith, who was publicly proclaimed poet laureate Oct. 16 at the San Luis Obispo City Council meeting, frequently draws on personal experiences in his writing.

“What I enjoy in a movie or book is being taken to a place I never imagined,” explained the poet, who turns 70 next week. “I think if a poet or a writer does their job, (they have) the chance to transport someone to another situation and make it real.”

Full article here.

Posted in Poetry News on Tuesday, November 6th, 2012 by Harriet Staff.