Eureka Poet Laureate David Holper

Poetry fans of Humboldt surely rejoiced the day that Eureka’s search for a poet laureate ended and David Holper — local writer and CR English instructor — proudly assumed the role. But a poet laureate’s job has its burdens, and now Holper needs your help to keep the program running.

During their year-long appointment, Eureka’s poet Laureate must write four poems about the city and create a community poetry project of some sort. Holper has created two projects: a website to promote local poets who have published books of their work and a local poetry and art contest. But Holper was recently denied his grant request to fund these projects and is now asking local folks to donate to the program. 

“There is no budget for the poet laureate,” Holper told the Outpost. “So you not only have to write the poems, but also fork out the dough.”

The first project — a website dedicated to promoting local poets who have published works — would require paying for a website domain, which Holper said he would like to purchase for five years. The website would be designed by someone from the Ink People, which oversees the poet laureate program.

The second project consists of a poetry and art contest, aiming to pair around 20 local poets — asked to submit a poem about Eureka — with 20 local artists — who would create a piece of art based on a selected poem. The contest would culminate in a showcase of the poetry and art at the Ink People Center for the Arts.

Holper said he needs funding to help with printing promotional materials for the contest as well as printing nice copies of the poems for display and additional copies to give to people at the show.

In order to gain the funding he needs, Holper applied for a grant with the Humboldt Area Foundation, which was denied. Holper has successfully applied for grants before, and is not sure why this proposal was not accepted. He said he bears no grudge about it, but now needs to find the funding elsewhere. Though Holper could apply for another grant, he said it would be time-consuming and he felt that using GoFundMe would be a quicker route.

In addition to these two projects, Holper is planning to host a poetry reading at the Morris Graves in April (National Poetry Month) and would like to have the website up and running in time to promote this event, which will feature many of those local published poets.

Holper is proud to be a part of bringing the long poet laureate tradition to Eureka and hopes his projects will help shine a spotlight on this sometimes overlooked art form.

“There’s a lot of artwork in Eureka, murals all over walls, galleries,” Holper said.  “But poetry is a quieter art. My goal is to bring poetry into the visible light of the community and raise awareness of the amazing talents of the people who live here.”

You can donate on the Eureka Poet Laureate GoFundMe page.