Santa Barbara Independent

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POET POWER

Last week, Westmont professor Paul Willis was officially named the next Santa Barbara poet laureate. Willis, whose work has been published in more than 100 literary journals, will replace current laureate David Starkey and will hold the post until April 2013. more

Week in Sports

UCSB continues its last homestand in the men’s volleyball regular season tonight (Fri., April 1) against UC Irvine. The two teams are vying for fourth place in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation, which would ensure a home-court appearance in the first round of the MPSF playoffs. The Gauchos (13-10, 10-7 in the conference) clinched their first playoff berth since 2007 by sweeping UC San Diego on Thursday night. The scores were 25-17, 25-19 and 25-17. more

A Chat with Paul J. Willis

Created to advance an appreciation for arts and humanities throughout the community, Santa Barbara’s honorary poet laureate position is awarded every two years to an accomplished local poet active in literary circles. The laureate receives an honorarium of $1,000 per year, and participates in outreach by attending public functions as well as holding workshops and readings at area schools. more

Housing Loan Questions

City Hall watchdog Ernie Salomon has raised questions about an employee loan program designed to help city workers buy homes, charging that many of the loans are now worth more than the properties themselves and that the program, begun in 2000, siphoned more than $4 million from the general fund that could otherwise have paid the salaries of firefighters, police officers, or librarians. Furthermore, Salomon — also a public-access TV talk-show host — contends the loan program has operated with no oversight by the City Council. Mayor Helene Schneider countered that the council has revisited and reauthorized the loan program twice since its inception. City finance czar Bob Samario said of the 45 loans issued by this program, nine have been repaid in full. Of the 36 still outstanding, only one is in arrears. Samario said he expected a check this week to cure that deficiency. more

New Poet Laureate

Westmont professor Paul J. Willis has been named the next poet laureate for the City of Santa Barbara, to serve as ceremonial bard over the next two years. One of seven nominees for the post, Willis was selected based on his published work, community involvement, and educational background. Willis, whose work is infused with a love of the outdoors and his Christian faith, said he took to poetry about 25 years ago, in part because it fit in better with his schedule as a college professor. “It’s a very sad feeling to start classes in September with just half a novel written,” he said. “But with poetry, you wake up early in the morning and write something and feel a measure of completeness.” As poet laureate, Willis will be paid $1,000 a year; in exchange he will be expected to write several poems a year and read them during various civic occasions. Willis will be the city’s fourth poet laureate since the program was first inaugurated. more

Reggie Williams

Westmont alumnus Reggie Williams ’95, a doctoral candidate in Christian ethics at Fuller Theological Seminary, will examine the intersection between social interpretations of Christ and social ethics in a free, public lecture Tuesday, April 5, at 3:30 p.m. in Adams Center 216. “The Impact of Harlem Renaissance Theology on the Incarnational Ethics of Dietrich Bonhoeffer” will detail Bonhoeffer’s experience in Harlem and eventual involvement in the church struggle against Nazi Christians. more

50th Annual Westmont Spring Sing

Westmont’s Spring Sing, a student-performed variety show and competition between resident halls, celebrates its 50th anniversary on Saturday, April 2, at 6:30 p.m. at the Santa Barbara Bowl. Tickets, which are $23 for general admission and $10 for children 12 and under, can be purchased online. more

Public Debate: Abortion—Right or Wrong?

Two of the nation’s top experts will debate the abortion issue at a public forum on Friday, April 15, at 6 p.m. in Westmont’s Murchison Gym. General admission to the event is $5; students are free. more

UCSB Middle East Ensemble

The UC Santa Barbara Middle East Ensemble (MEE) will perform a diverse repertoire of Middle Eastern music and dances Wednesday, March 30, at 7 p.m. in Westmont’s Porter Theatre. The event is free and open to the public, though reservations are requested. For tickets or for more information, please contact Thomas Jayawardene, Westmont professor of sociology, at (805) 565-6783. more

Week in Sports

The 73rd annual Santa Barbara Easter Relays are taking place between rainstorms on the all-weather Nick Carter Track at La Playa Stadium this weekend. Today (Fri., March 25) junior college competition is underway. The first running event, the 3,000-meter steeplechase, is at 11 a.m. The meet will conclude with the 4×400 relays at 4:10 p.m. more