Monterey County's Poet Laureate '24/25
Space Junk from the Heavenly Palace
As a chunk of the Chinese Space Station, Tiāngōng or 天宫一号 or Heavenly Palace, hurls itself into the Monterey Bay, the main character finds themselves enmeshed in the same colorful, chaotic crashing through spheres of space or voids of phones or the dark empty of love and the self.
Rachelle Escamilla is a Chicana poet from the Central Coast of California. She is the author of three books of poetry: Imaginary Animal (Willow Books, 2015 & 2021), Me Drawing a Picture of Me[n] (Willow Books, 2019) and Space Junk from the Heavenly Palace (Nomadic Press/Black Lawrence Press 2023). Rachelle is the founder of a number of organizations and literary programs including: The Poets and Writers Coalition and Legacy of Poetry Day at San José State University; The English-language Center for Creative Writing at Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou, China; Literature of the Margins at the United States Consulate of Guangzhou, China and the Latinx Poetix Symposium at California State University Monterey Bay. From 2015-2020 Rachelle was the producer and host of the longest running poetry radio show in the US, Out of Our Minds on KKUP Cupertino 91.5 FM. In 2018 She was a visiting scholar at the Library of Congress, Hispanic Division where she conducted research around her grandfather’s 1969 testimony for the fair treatment of migrant laborers in California. While at the Library of Congress, Escamilla recorded her poems for the Archive of Hispanic Literature on Tape: Palabra and published an article, Searching for my Family with the Library of Congress. She was also invited to the National Endowment for Humanities during her time in D.C. Rachelle’s first collection of poetry, Imaginary Animal is the winner of the Willow Books Prize in Literature for Poetry and has been released as a 2nd edition with an introduction by poet and scholar, Manuel Paul Lopez. Rachelle’s nonfiction writing, scholarship and research has been published in English, Spanish and Mandarin, and she has worked as a food columnist and fashion editor at local and global magazines. Escamilla is the recipient of a number of awards including the Virginia de Arujo Academy of American Poets Prize, James Phelan Literary awards and Philanthropist of the Year for helping the Friends of the SBC Free Library develop an online presence. Rachelle has worked for The Philip Glass Days and Nights Festival as a social media and marketing director, and has developed and launched visual media for a number of grassroots causes, including the Yes on J to Ban Fracking and California’s Decriminalization of Psilocybin movement. Escamilla hopes to adapt her poetry into a play to be directed by Katherine Wilkinson and scheduled to show at Access Theater in New York, which was supposed to happen during the summer of 2020. Escamilla has been featured at a number of poetry events across the US., but most notably at UC Berkeley Art Museum & Pacific Film Archive, at the Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History and at City of Asylum alongside Eileen Myles and Alexia Bomtempo. Rachelle Escamilla is the 2024/25 Poet Laureate of Monterey County and has been awarded The Denis Diderot Grant for 2025 to attend Château d'Orquevaux Artists & Writers Residency in Champagne-Ardenne, France “one of the top ten most beautiful residencies in the world.”