15:30 PM

Ethnic Studies Professor Awarded Poet Laureate Fellowship

Jason Magabo Perez, a Cal State San Marcos ethnic studies professor and the poet laureate of San Diego, has been awarded a $50,000 poet laureate fellowship by the Academy of American Poets.

Perez was announced Tuesday as one of 23 individuals nationally to be named 2023 Poet Laureate Fellows by the AAP, which handed out a total of $1.1 million. They all serve as poets laureate of states, counties and cities across the United States and will be leading public poetry programs in their respective communities in 2023–24.

“I am grateful for the affirmation and honored by the support and encouragement from Academy of American Poets in helping us continue to build upon the empowering histories and brilliant communities of poetry and art in San Diego,” Perez said. "I look forward to dreaming up possibilities for such work in San Diego, at CSUSM, and beyond."   

For his fellowship, Perez, an associate professor and the director of ethnic studies at CSUSM, will help launch a youth empowerment poetry project that includes youth mentorship and workshops on poetry, performance-making, filmmaking and video art. The project will feature collaborations with Pacific Arts Movement, local high school ethnic studies and English teachers, and the development of open-access poetry curricula, grassroots publishing initiatives and a culminating youth poetry summit in San Diego.

Hired in 2019, Perez is entering his fifth academic year at CSUSM. In January, San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria selected him as the city’s poet laureate, a two-year appointment to write poems, hold workshops and add to the cultural richness of the region.

He is a poet, essayist, fiction writer, performer, educator, community organizer and the author of the full-length collection of poetry and prose titled “This is for the Mostless.” He blends poetry, prose, performance, film/video, ethnography and oral history to explore the lived histories, contemporary experiences and futures of Filipino American communities. He also serves as a community arts fellow for the Bulosan Center for Filipino Studies at UC Davis.

Through its Poet Laureate Fellowship program, the Academy of American Poets has awarded $5.45 million in fellowships to 105 poets laureate since 2019. The AAP also has helped encourage the creation of more than 40 new poet laureate positions across the nation since launching the program. The fellowships are made possible by the Mellon Foundation, which awarded the academy two grants to fund the program. 

“The Academy of American Poets celebrates the unique position poets laureate occupy at state and local levels, elevating the possibilities poetry can bring to community conversations and reminding us that our national spirit can be nourished by the power of the written and spoken word,” said Ricardo Maldonado, president and executive director of the academy. “We are inspired by these projects … that the 23 fellows will carry out, and grateful to the Mellon Foundation and the nonprofit organizations supporting this life-affirming work.”