Mayor Chooses Two New Poets Laureate
Mayor Trish Herrera Spencer and Library Director Jane Chisaki announce that Gene Kahane and Cathy Dana have been named Poets Laureate, the third and fourth poets in Alameda history to hold the title. The city’s first Poet Laureate was Mary Rudge, who served from 2002 to 2014. She was followed by Julia Park Tracey, who served from 2014 to 2017.
Gene Kahane has been teaching for more than 30 years, most of that time in Alameda at Haight Elementary, Wood Middle and Encinal High schools. He is also an actor, drama director and poet. He has written poetry to commemorate events, honored colleagues and students for their milestones in life and has encouraged people to find their voices and share their talents.
Cathy Dana is the president of Alameda Island Poets, and regularly leads two workshops at the Home of Truth. She facilitates “Storytelling Swap” at Frank Bette Center for the Arts. She also teaches creative writing at Alameda Community Learning Center, where she began the Mighty Pens teen poetry group, as well as the first poet laureate program. Her first published book of poetry, My Dad Believed in Love, was released in early 2016.
The Poet Laureate is a ceremonial appointment made by the Mayor. Members of a selection committee reviewed applications and interviewed top candidates. Nominees must be an Alameda resident and actively involved in the literary community. Responsibilities include creating community-based poetry events that reflect Alameda’s diversity.
The two Poets Laureate will be officially appointed at the Sept. 5, City Council meeting following which, they will recite their inaugural poems.
“The City of Alameda is thrilled with the appointments of Gene Kahane and Cathy Dana as our Poets Laureate. This is a very important role for our arts and literary community,” said Library Director and staff to the Poet Laureate Selection Committee Jane Chisaki. “The Selection Committee had a very difficult time selecting from our top two candidates even after personal interviews, so we chose them both! Appointing both Mr. Kahane and Ms. Dana brings a wonderful breadth of experience and passion for the written word.”