The Santa Cruz Poetry Project began as the legacy project of Ellen Bass while she was Poet Laureate of Santa Cruz County. Over the past four years, the program has facilitated workshops throughout the county and with your help will continue changing the lives of incarcerated men and women one word, one poem at a time. Co-founder Nancy Miller Gomez has been instrumental in keeping the program vital in the Santa Cruz County jail system, organizing fund raisers and coordinating new volunteers.
We have volunteer instructors conducting classes at the Santa Cruz Main Jail, the Blaine Street women's facility, and the Rountree men's facility near Watsonville, CA. Besides teaching intensive classes in creative writing, we also host Poetry Jams for the participants and their families, and publish anthologies every year.
The William James Association, a 501c3 non-profit, is the fiscal sponsor of The Santa Cruz Poetry Project.
We are also grateful for the ongoing support of the Arts Council Santa Cruz.
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Many participants have said they intend to continue writing and studying poetry after their release. One participant had his work published in a national journal, another had essays published in Catamaran. Another participant who only had a third grade education said he developed the confidence to sign up for classes at a junior college. Another was so deeply moved he wanted to know how he could give his children “poetry lessons” so he could share this deep experience with them.
We are excited to announce our first post-release workshops, which will be begin January 6, 2020. They will be held weekly 4-5:30 PM at the Downtown Branch of the Santa Cruz Public Library, 224 Church Street, Santa Cruz. The workshop will be open to all former students, and indeed, all members of the justice-involved community who wish to explore the power of poetry in their lives outside.
Please consider donating your time and/or treasure so we can continue this invaluable work with our incarcerated brothers and sisters. Your dollars would go toward teaching materials, paid teaching positions, and anthology printing costs. Your time would go toward teaching new classes, or substituting for our regular staff of volunteers and paid teaching artists.