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"Thank you for helping me heal. For an hour and a half once a week, I have a safe place to work through my pain. My poetry class is the only place I have right now where I feel strong enough to write my way through all the tragedy and loss that haunts me every day. It's a place where I am reminded of love and joy and reminded to follow my bliss, and that everything will be OK. The smile I receive when I walk through the door, along with the heartfelt encouragement and compassion, is more than I could ever ask for or expect. Especially in a place as cold as this. Thank you to every single one of you, all of you that I do not know. Thank you for helping me heal and grow."  -- Julia C., Blaine Street Women's Facility, Santa Cruz Co.

Freedom Through the Written Word

The Santa Cruz Poetry Project provides weekly writing and poetry workshops to incarcerated men and women in the Santa Cruz County Jails. The workshops foster creativity and self-expression and provide an opportunity for participants to transform personal challenges into a shared experience through poems and stories. The workshops help participants heal emotional wounds and make meaning of their lives. The skills learned in the workshops can be life-changing, especially for those trying to successfully reintegrate into their communities after incarceration.

Starting May 2022, we will resume teaching in-person classes! We are looking forward to getting back together masked-face-to-masked-face with our students. 

Teaching poetry during a pandemic has been a challenge, but one we willingly, even enthusiastically, took up. We suspended classes for a month in March 2020, but picked them back up in April of that year, in coordination with the program director at the Sheriff's Office, and program coordinators at the Blaine Street, Rountree, and Re-entry & Rehabilitation facilities. For the past two years, we've conducted Independent Study and remote video classes. 

We have published two anthologies of the poetry our students have been producing since the pandemic began. Please click on the Poetry Anthologies link to see them!

We are proud to be under the fiscal sponsorship of the William James Association. The William James Association promotes work service in the arts, environment, education, and community development. Our major concern has been transformative arts experiences in nontraditional settings, working with prisoners, high-risk youth and parolees.

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