The City of Santa Fe Arts Commission named Darryl Lorenzo Wellington as Santa Fe’s new poet laureate and Valerie Rangel as the new city historian.
Both will serve two-year terms in these honorary positions and will receive $5,000 annual honoraria from the Arts & Culture Department.
Wellington is the sixth Santa Fe poet laureate. In his ceremonial capacity, he will mark civic occasions with public performances. He also will coordinate educational and literary events that raise awareness of the power of poetry and spoken word, with an emphasis on cross-disciplinary collaboration.
Wellington is a playwright, performance artist, essayist, critic, and journalist whose work has appeared in such publications as the Nation, plus the Washington Post, Boston Review, and Christian Science Monitor. His poetry chapbook, Life’s Prisoners, received the 2017 Turtle Island Quarterly Chapbook Award. Since 2016, he has been a writing and communications fellow with Center for Community Change, a Washington D.C.-based organization that supports low-income people of color.
“Even though I’m a poet, and play with language habitually, it’s hard to not state the obvious: I am very happy to be Santa Fe’s next poet laureate, and, frankly, I’m a bit surprised,” he said. “I will be publishing my first full-length book of poetry [this fall], and I had no inkling I would be a future laureate when Flowstone Press accepted the book. I hope my good luck will send a message: You never know when you will find poetry, you never know who may become a really memorable poet, and poetry is accessible to everyone.”
Valerie Rangel is Santa Fe’s fourth city historian. In her position, she will conduct research and make public presentations that incorporate a range of perspectives on Santa Fe’s history and cultural development. Rangel holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of New Mexico. Her graduate work was in natural resources and environmental planning, with coursework in Indigenous planning and public health.
Rangel has worked as an archivist for the state Records Center and Archives, and has conducted research, contributed historical essays, and done archival work for the Office of the State Historian. Rangel is the author of Environmental Justice in New Mexico: Counting Coup, a portion of which she presented at the 2018 National Environmental Justice Conference and Training Program in Washington, D.C. The book is a collection of histories from people and communities confronting New Mexico’s uranium and radioactive contamination, mining, fracking, water rights, and other environmental issues.