By Timithie NORMAN
An eclectic crowd of poetry-lovers gathered at the McGroarty Arts Center in Tujunga Sunday to enjoy an afternoon of spoken word and the biannual passing of the laurels to the area’s newest poet laureate, Dorothy Skiles.
Skiles is the seventh laureate of Sunland-Tujunga, an honor bestowed by the six members of the Sunland-Tujunga Poetry and Literature Committee of the Village Poets group. The poet laureate program, which names a new laureate every two years, started in 1999.
“The role of poet laureate is to bring poetry to the community,” explained outgoing laureate Maja Trochimczyk. “We celebrate the life of the community through poetry.”
Past laureates have created open mic nights, hosted monthly poetry readings with featured poets, published anthologies and other books, created poems to commemorate special events in the community, and represented the Village Poets at local festivals and events.
Skiles has been writing poetry since her teenage years and has been a part of the Sunland-Tujunga community since 1973.
“It is an honor to serve and promote poetry,” she said. “This is an art community, and I am looking forward to it.”
During her term, Skiles plans to create a series of poetry workshops for the public, work with seniors in facilities to “be uplifted through seasonal poetry,” and work with a committee from Tujunga’s historic Bolton Hall to include poetry in its upcoming centennial celebration.
Master of Ceremonies and former poet laureate Joe DeCenzo, along with Trochimczyk, introduced a series of poets who read their original works during the ceremony. Kathabela Wilson, accompanied by her husband Rick on a wooden flute, recited poems praising the Pasadena community as well as the unique charm of Sunland-Tujunga.
A number of local government and organization representatives presented certificates honoring both Trochimczyk for her past work and Skiles on her selection as the new laureate before the laurels were officially passed and Skiles recited 10 of her own original poems.