Poetry News

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.

Originally Published: November 6th, 2012