Nevada County Arts Council (NCArts) 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 national Los Angeles Poet Laureate Robin Cost Lewis, author of Voyage of the Sable Venus, winner of National Book Award for Poetry. Three other California poet laureates, and an array of local, national and international poets and performers will join Cost Lewis. Among the day’s line-up are Kim Shuck, Indigo Moor, Marcelo Hernandez Castillo, Judy Halebsky, VS Chochezi and Staajabu as Straight Out Scribes, Neeli Cherkovski, Bill Gainer, Molly Fisk, Charles and Gail Entrekin, Sands Hall, Mel Pryor, Kirsten Casey and more.
Eliza Tudor, Executive Director of NCArts, 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, open mics, workshops, discussion, 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 as their own, 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 cafes, 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.”
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 poets, 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, 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 your sponsorship 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