Pomona’s first poet laureate: David Oliver

David Marcus Oliver is a man of many titles. He is an artist, poet, author, art advisor and Pomona’s very first poet laureate. To close friends and the Pomona community, he is also known as Judah 1. 

“I found my art and creativity in the heart of Pomona. That is why it is so special to me,” Oliver said. 

Oliver has left his mark throughout the Pomona community and has been a resident for over 13 years. Pomona is full of art and Oliver believes that it is a city where artists can grow and be inspired. 

A day in Oliver’s life is always different. He loves working with the youth and is always on the move, visiting schools and spreading his love for literary work. He is the art consultant for the Ontario Montclair School District, has collaborated with Cal Poly Pomona for open mic events and has read poetry at cultural events.

Oliver is also the founder of LionLike MindState at the Pomona Fairplex and Humanity Church in downtown Pomona. LionLike MindState is a spoken word venue where individuals can participate in open mic events or poetry workshops. Oliver created LionLike MindState to give people a space to share their stories. 

“I love the community and the gathering of people at LionLike MindState. It is a place for everyone, whether you are all about poetry or not,” Oliver said. 

David Oliver finds inspiration in the youth and within the walls of downtown Pomona.
(Courtesy of David Oliver)

In December 2019, Oliver received the highest honor of being recognized by the city of Pomona as its first poet laureate. A poet laureate is an honorary representative who is recognized by an institution or government for his/her achievement in the literary arts. 

Oliver’s responsibility as poet laureate is to create an official poem to inspire poetry as spoken and literary work for the Pomona community. 

“My goal as the laureate is to forge another path and lane for artists and poets to take,” Oliver said. “The office of laureate is one often forgotten. My goal is to leave a lasting legacy of the spirit of art in Pomona and the Inland Empire.” 

Oliver has big plans this year for Pomona. He is currently in the process of creating Pomona’s very first Poetry and Arts Festival. The projected date for the festival is set for September of this year. 

This festival will give the people of Pomona a platform to express, celebrate and create their own literary works and art. 

He also has plans to create Pomona’s first poetry anthology featuring the strongest writers in the community, spanning the last 20 years of poetry in Pomona.

For more information on Oliver’s upcoming events and projects, you can follow his Instagram @judah1. For updates from Lionlike MindState, you can check out its Instagram @lionheartcommunity. 

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