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Sinking Into the SB Poetry Fund

I am thinking like a poet - her absence must almost be a presence Barbara Lawrence

Absence is not the opposite of presence You can be present but still be absent How many times have you and I heard that And one can be present even in absence In a court of law it is called "in Absentia" From the Latin convicted or acquitted But nowhere in sight but you are in sight What is absent is the idle conversation idling Along just the two of us a steady hum Of perfect-pitch music of the smallest Of things the thing become the thing Minutia of one's life integral to the other Silence fills the empty house filled to the brim With you with the brilliant colors you chose The art the glass the bright reds and blues All things curated with your loving soul Present and absent takes me sinking in - Sinking In by Peter Karoff

The late Peter Karoff, the author of this poem, was known for his lifelong passion for philanthropy and his thought-provoking and eloquent poems that inspired those around him to view life with a new perspective. Karoff believed poetry to be a powerful tool of connection, expression and understanding, which is why he had a wish to establish an endowment with the Santa Barbara Foundation to support poetry in the community.

“When you establish an endowment fund, you create a permanent legacy of support. This is because an endowment fund has the ability to grow and provide support for its designated purpose in the future, with no expiration date,” said Jessica Sanchez, Senior Donor Relations Officer. “Leaving a legacy enables you to be present forever.”

Chryss Yost, who served as Santa Barbara Poet Laureate from 2013-15 and is a co-editor of Santa Barbara’s Gunpowder Press, could not be more excited about the potential this endowment has for strengthening Santa Barbara’s poetry community. Yost worked with the Santa Barbara Foundation as a fiscal sponsor to open the SB Poetry Fund.

“My goal is to start bringing in more diverse, highly recognized poets and poetry teachers into the community and to give young poets, especially young poets of color, the opportunity to interact and collaborate to create poems that make Santa Barbara stand out as a hub for poetry across the country,” said Yost.

In addition to diversifying the types of poets that visit Santa Barbara, Yost also wants to continue partnering with local organizations, such as the Santa Barbara Public Library and local schools, to embed poetry more deeply in the community and give people the opportunity to express their opinions in new ways.

“The value of poetry to a community is that it fulfills each individual’s need to express themselves based on feeling, not necessarily logic, and that connects them with other people, across generations and borders,” said Yost. “We are laying the foundation today for a more vibrant and inclusive poetry community in the years ahead, thanks to Peter’s gift and the support of the foundation.”

For more information on the poetry community in Santa Barbara, visit or stop by the next reading on October 15 at the Santa Barbara Public Library that will welcome two new books: Parable, poems by Peter Karoff, and To Give Life a Shape: Poems Inspired by the Santa Barbara Museum of Art by David Starkey and Chryss Yost. For more information about opening a fund with the Santa Barbara Foundation, please visit our website or contact Jessica Sanchez, Senior Donor Relations Officer at
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