Tuesday, September 8, 2020

AmadorArts: 19-Year-Old Deja Douglas is Amador’s New Poet Laureate

A new Poet Laureate for Amador County has just been announced by Amador County Arts Council (AmadorArts). The honor goes to Deja Douglas of Jackson, selected from numerous nominations locally. The appointment of Deja Douglas is notably significant since at the age of 19 years, she could be the youngest adult Poet Laureate among California counties.

Following Amador’s inaugural Poet Laureate, the renowned Kat Everitt, Douglas will serve in this honorary leadership role for two years. Douglas will be at the forefront of Amador poetry, making presentations at a variety of public events, helping to focus attention on poetry as an art form, and bringing poetry to school children and high schoolers in the Poetry Out Loud curriculum. In case you were wondering, Laureate refers to wearing a crown of laurel leaves, a symbol of honor in Ancient Greece for poets and heroes.

It’s been said that “One line of poetry can change a life.”That pretty much summarizes Deja Douglas’ background. She credits Jackson Junior High School teacher Kathy Baptista with introducing her to poetry, fueling the flame of creativity that was unknown to Douglas.  She became prolific at making poetry and art books that she still keeps. Expressing herself through writing, she found a spark in her life. Then, at Argonaut High School, she was inspired again by teachers she now refers to as heroes: Matt Hovey, Meghan O’Keefe, and Valerie Davidson.

Another person Douglas is thankful for is former AmadorArts Board member Nan Muzinich. “She helped me become a better artist and was the first person to pay me for a commission piece of artwork!” With her encouragement, Douglas applied for and became one of the first Student Directors of AmadorArts. https://www.amadorarts.org/student-directors


When asked what has been her favorite journey so far, she says it was attending a teacher convention in the Bay Area about how to integrate the Arts into the classroom. “On that trip my whole perspective changed and I was met with many wonderful diverse people, all truly passionate about the Arts…I saw how our identities and cultures play a major role in the arts.”

In January of 2018, Deja's poetry reading at the ACUSD School Board Meeting, brought Trustees to tears and was instrumental in the adoption of the Declaration for All Students to Equitable Arts Education. ACUSD was the third district in the state to adopt this document that affirms all students K-12 will receive equitable, rigorous, and sequential arts education. Douglas and other students have been instrumental in Arts Education Advocacy in Amador County. https://www.artsed411.org/blog/2018/01/amador_adopts_declaration_rights_all_students%C2%A0_equity_arts_learning   

She created and entered into a statewide competition a video, Student Voices, Campaign, about the loss of Art in schools. Called “Lost Connection.” Deja says it “expresses our dream for all students to have access to Arts Education and the freedom to freely express themselves.” Deja is the narrator whose poignant poem is heard behind the visuals. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x9WQe-HRmlw

Her current poetry, which she often reads at AmadorArts Open Mic https://www.amadorarts.org/open-mic-nights/ , is dark and moody. She says they reflect the times right now that she sees as bleak, though, she admits there’s also beauty; both good and bad, yin and yang. When asked about her idea of perfect happiness, she says it’s overrated, that she prefers the word joy, as in the little things, dirt in your hands, the smell of rain on concrete, making tea for a friend.

As a recent graduate of Argonaut High she will be continuing her education online from Sonora’s Columbia College. Along with her part-time job, and now, new poetry roles, she’ll be busy. AmadorArts Executive Director, Meghan O’Keefe said “We are all excited to work with Douglas in Poetry and Arts Advocacy. Douglas provides a fresh perspective and is such a talented poet, academic, and visual artist, with a huge heart to boot! Together with the Board, Staff, and Kat Everitt, we are going to nurture poetic arts throughout Amador.” This activity is made possible in part by the California Arts Council, a state agency. Find out more at arts.ca.gov.

Welcome Deja Douglas as our new Amador County Poet Laureate.

Stagnant Waters

Stale and dry is the air.

Crammed within the cluttered rooms.

Where the fluid Winds of Change dare not drift.

Stiff, spent, days


Into sweltering Oblivion.

Both mind and body plunged,

Far far beneath the muggy flat waters.

Shrouded by green slippery sludge.

Covering the Stony Rocky Shore-

of lost hopes and dreams.

Nothing changes here!

Yet, the light still reflects

upon even the most gloomy

Murkiest of waters.

© Deja Douglas

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