California Poets in the Schools, which puts poets-in-residence in schools for short or long-term stints, was founded in 1964 -- the same year many other wondrous things happened, including passage of the national Civil Rights and Wilderness acts.
Hm, maybe there's some synergy in those coincidences. A program, you might say, was created to haul poets out of the howling wilderness and grant them a level standing in the world -- to pop them proudly into classrooms to lead agile, sensitive young minds through the paces of poetic expression.
Yeah, well, sounds good. But today's poets in the schools still need money to do all this equal-opportunity poetic coaching of, according to the program's wesbite, some 25,000 students annually "in hundreds of public and private schools, juvenile halls, after-school programs, hospitals, and other community settings."
Julie Hochfeld, a local poet participant, says the program has been in Humboldt County for 30 years, and today reaches 1,000 students. Poets in the schools are funded with a mixture of federal, state and private contributions. That last bit's where you -- reader, word-lover, idea-seeker -- come in. Every year, the local poets-in-residence apply for matching state grants. And then they gather up the match from kind-hearted, poet-loving citizens.
Friday, April 12, at 7 p.m., Hochfeld will join fellow poets Jerry Martien, Celia Homesley, Daryl Chinn, Dan Brewer and Dan Zev Levinson in a poetry reading at Northtown Books, 957 H St., in Arcata. Yep, it's a benefit for California Poets in the Schools. There's no charge, but donations will be encouraged.