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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.

Current News and Events

There is a brand new Anthology available, a compilation of poetry from five classes! It's our biggest book yet, over 100 pages of poems by the men of Units S & R Rountree, Rehabilitation and Reentry, and Main Jail; and the women of Main Jail and Blaine Street. It is available free or for a donation on our page of Poetry Anthologies. 


We are pleased to announce the resumption of our weekly community workshops, in conjunction with the Santa Cruz Public Library! We meet in the Life Literacy Center at the SCPL Downtown branch, from 4:00-5:30 PM. We'll be reading and discussing poetry, with a period of writing and sharing. These workshops are open to the public, with outreach to formerly incarcerated and underserved individuals in our community.

In February 2023, we took over two existing poetry classes from William James Association, one men's and one women's. It's been a long time since we conducted classes in the Main Jail facility in Santa Cruz; we are pleased to be offering programs there again! We are grateful to the Sheriff's Department and Inmate Programs for giving us this opportunity. Blaine Street Medium facility for women has reopened as well, and we are very pleased to be teaching a class there.

We are always looking for volunteers to fill out our ranks! Please contact us if you are interested in becoming part of our team. 

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 incarcerated persons, high-risk youth, and parolees.

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