Activity Guide | Summer 2023 | Santa Cruz County Parks • 15 artist OF THE YEAR Stephen Kessler Stephen Kessler, poet, translator, essayist, editor, and novelist has been named 2023 Santa Cruz County Artist of the Year by the Santa Cruz County Arts Commission. The Artist of the Year award is presented to local artists for outstanding achievement in the discipline of performing, visual, or literary arts who have also made a substantial contribution to the cultur al enrichment of Santa Cruz County. A free Profile Performance will be held at the Kuumbwa Jazz Center on May 20, from 7:00-9:00 PM. Admission is FREE to the public; seating is limited and available on a first-come, first-served basis the night of the event. To learn more about the award and previous recipients: Born in Los Angeles in 1947, Kessler received a BA in Languages and Literature from Bard College (1968) and an MA in Literature from the University of California, Santa Cruz (1969). His collections of poetry include Nostalgia of the Fortuneteller (Kayak Books, 1975); Scratch Pegasus (Swan Scythe Press, 2013); Garage Elegies, and Last Call (both from Black Widow Press, 2018 and 2021), among others. His translations of the Spanish poet Luis Cernuda have received numerous awards including a Lambda Literary Award for Written in Water (City Lights Books, 2004), the Harold Morton Landon Translation Award from the Academy of American Poets for Desolation of the Chimera (White Pine Press, 2009), and the PEN Center USA Translation Award for Forbidden Pleasures (Black Widow Press, 2015). Kessler's other books of translation include The Sonnets by Jorge Luis Borges (as editor and principal translator, Penguin, 2010); Eyeseas by Raymond Queneau, translated from the French with Daniela Hurezanu (Black Widow Press, 2008); Poems of Consummation by Vicente Aleixandre (Black Widow Press, 2013); Save Twilight: Selected Poems by Julio Cortázar (Northern California Book Award, City Lights Books, 2016); and Heights of Machu Picchu by Pablo Neruda (Bulfinch, 2001), among others. Kessler was the founding editor and publisher of Alcatraz (1979-1985), an international journal, as well as founder, publisher and editor-in-chief of the Santa Cruz newsweekly The Sun (1986-1989), editor and writer at the Santa Cruz Express, and more recently, Santa Cruz Weekly, among other local newspapers. From 1999 to 2014 he was the founding editor of the quarterly literary newspaper The Redwood Coast Review, four-time recipient of the California Library Association's PR Excellence Award; and in recent years is a weekly opinion columnist at the Santa Cruz Sentinel. In the early 1980s he helped to organize several poetical-political benefits (Bombs Away!) and festivals (Art & Action), and with another longtime friend and former Artist of the Year, Gary Young, co-hosted The Poetry Show and Bards After Dark on community radio station KUSP from 1981 to 1986. Stephen Kessler's papers are collected at the Lilly Library, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana. ARTS PROGRAMS & ACTIVITIES Photo credit: Dina Scoppetone

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