about the 2018 SIERRA POETRY Festival
Nevada County Arts Council will present the 2018 Sierra Poetry Festival on April 28, all day, at Sierra College in Grass Valley. Activities will include a keynote address by Los Angeles Poet Laureate Robin Coste Lewis, author of Voyage of the Sable Venus, winner of the National Book Award for Poetry. Three other California poets laureate, and an array of local, national and international poets and performers will join Coste Lewis. Among the day’s line-up are Kim Shuck, Indigo Moor, Marcelo Hernandez Castillo, Judy Halebsky, V.S. Chochezi and Staajabu as Straight Out Scribes, Neeli Cherkovski, Bill Gainer, Molly Fisk, Charles Entrekin, Gail Entrekin, Sands Hall, Mel Pryor, Kirsten Casey and more.
Eliza Tudor, Executive Director of Nevada County Arts Council, says: “Our inaugural Sierra Poetry Festival in 2017 was a watershed moment for poetry in Northern California. 2018 will be all the more meaningful now that Grass Valley, Nevada City and Truckee are recognized by the state under the California Cultural Districts Program.
“We are planning readings, workshops, discussions, an open mic session, youth voices and activism to celebrate the many ways that poetry can act as an agent for change. We chose our theme, Ordinary Light, as a nod to our brand new United States Poet Laureate, Tracy K. Smith, for the title of her award-winning memoir. We challenge our poets and our performers to interpret this in their own way, and our audiences to participate with this theme in mind.”
Award-winning young adult novelist Kim Culbertson, new to Nevada County Arts Council’s Literary Arts Committee this year, says: “The idea of what it means to be a literary citizen felt important to us as we designed our program. We’d like to have this conversation with our community – so we will be offering fringe events in cafés, art galleries, and local libraries to create active and engaging poetry experiences for everyone. These will happen all the way through April, National Poetry Month.”
The mainstage Sierra Poetry Festival will feature Poetry Place, a literary vendor fair with books, information, literary items, and interactive multimedia activities. Karen Terrey, coordinating this portion of the festival, says: “We welcome authors, poets, performers, publishers and teachers whose work relates to poetry and the literary arts, especially those that offer participatory experiences.”
A key priority for Nevada County Arts Council at Sierra Poetry Festival is local youth. Chris Olander, a local California Poets in the Schools teaching poet, says: “We want to offer them an opportunity to grow and thrive – either through poetry recitation or through the simple enjoyment of listening to poetry read by some of our most eminent poets. Our youth can enjoy mainstage readings, attend workshops if accompanied by a ticket-holder, and participate in the free fringe festival poetry pop-up events that take place all the way through National Poetry Month in April. Our student festival tickets are offered free of charge – and sponsorship by local organizations, businesses, and individuals will help us cover the costs for this.”
From now until late April, our California Poets in the Schools teaching poets will be working in high schools across Nevada County to guide and coach teachers and students in preparation for the County – then State – finals in Poetry Out Loud. Nevada County Arts Council then offers participants the chance to present their pieces at Sierra Poetry Festival to friends, family, peers, and new audiences.
We also offer middle school students the opportunity to present poems of their choice at the Sierra Poetry Festival. This month our teaching poets again attended Nevada City School of the Arts 8th Grade Poetry Slam to select interested young poets who are then offered coaching prior to the festival, and during select events during our pre-festival pop-up poetry events. At our festival events our 8th graders get to mingle with our high school students and get a taste of Poetry Out Loud.
New to Sierra Poetry festival this year is an international project that Nevada County Arts Council is inaugurating in the US, which brings together Nevada County children with young people in countries such Syria, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Jordan, Palestine, Malaysia and Zimbabwe.
Tudor says: “Students from Grizzly Hill and Washington Schools will form part of a growing global community of young people who are gaining awareness and learning empathy for the way others live and, in the spirit of sharing the poetry they write, will share their own experience of life in rural California. We will showcase the work of our young on stage at the Sierra Poetry Festival and will show a film of our students communicating with others across the globe.”
JoAnn Marie, Chair of Nevada County Arts Council’s Literary Arts Committee, speaks of community support for Sierra Poetry Festival: “Our core group of festival partners is expanding. One such partner is KVMR Radio who will live broadcast festival events for the second year. Another is Briar Patch Food Co-Op. Community supporters such as Briar Patch show the heart in our community, and add a clear message that the arts are a vital cornerstone to society.” Like KVMR, Briar Patch is a founding sponsor of the festival, and will again serve delicious, wholesome foods throughout the day.
General Manager of KVMR, Julie Chiarelli, says: “We loved working alongside Nevada County Arts Council last year. Their fringe and mainstage events were dynamic, exciting and compelling. We loved that the pre-festival pop-up poetry fringe festival brought poetry off its pedestal and onto the streets – and this is just what we need. We love that the Festival is geared as much to our young as to our establishment.”
Meanwhile, in Eastern Nevada County, Co-Coordinator Karen Terrey of Tangled Roots Writing says, “Curating Truckee’s participation was fun last year. I’m glad to be part of the team again, and to see such a fantastic line up of literary people and events taking shape. This is surely a must-see, must-do event for all ages across both East and West Nevada County.”