From September 2016 to June 2017, ten writing workshops were provided by professional poets and writers to rural locations throughout California. A partnership between Poets & Writers and California Center for the Book provided the funding and the framework for California writers Susan Wooldridge, Tim Z. Hernandez and Olga Garcia Echeverria to visit libraries, literacy centers, and a high school in rural locations.
These workshops served more than 150 Californians, ranging in age from teen to senior. Counties served in fiscal year 2016/2017 included Del Norte, Humboldt, Imperial, Kings, Mariposa, San Benito, Shasta, Sutter, and Tehama. The writers presented workshops on journaling, memoir writing, poetry, and creativity. Some workshops were offered in both English and Spanish.
Local librarians, literacy specialists, and teachers coordinated the details, helped the writers tailor the workshops to the community, and provided publicity and support. Todd Deck, Librarian at Red Bluff Library said, “This was a wonderful step in promoting adult programming at our rural library. Susan is amazing!” Writer Tim Z. Hernandez said of his Mariposa County Library visit, “Another invaluable experience. The librarian and I have continued to stay in touch about the possibility of collaborating for poetry events to be held at a future date. These are the types of alignments and resources that come from being able to go into communities and meet folks and interact directly with them.” Writer Olga Garcia Echeverria worked with librarian Crystal Duran to bring in an English teacher and poetry club students from a local high school for a unique and powerful poetry program.
In September of 2017, Poets and Writers and California Center for the Book program managers will discuss target counties for 2017/2018 workshops with the hope of organizing ten workshops throughout under-resourced rural areas of California. For more information, please visit http://calbook.org/programs/poetryworkshopsatrurallibraries/.