Cupertino Library Teen Poetry Contest Winners

Click through here to the Santa Clara County Library website to read the poetry contest winners’ winning poems. There were winners from each library, and they are lovely poems.

Congratulations to the Cupertino winners (and of course, to all the winners!).

Neelufar Raja, Monta Vista High School (Grade 9) “The Music of Yosemite”

Serena Liu, Kennedy Middle School (Grade 6) “”Wandering Heart”




Reading Food Poems!


This Sunday I’ll be joining the lovely Erica Goss, Los Gatos Poet Laureate, for her Poetry Kitchen reading series. Come hear! And, come read — there will be an open mic following.

September 21, 2014 update: Here’s a photo of Erica and me, after the event. It was so much fun. I hope to attend the upcoming readings in the series. Photo by Amanda Williamson.

erica and jennifer poetry kitchen

Photos from the San Mateo County Fair

Wow, “Running of the Poets” was completely fun. I had a great time with a group of truly fine poets and one little boy: Keith Ekiss, Robin Ekiss, Maurine Killough, Kalamu Chaché  and Santa Clara Poet Laureate David Perez. The audience was good, too, which I didn’t really expect at an event known for livestock and screamer rides. The quilts were stunning. David Perez and I had lime cake, which was divine, courtesy of some cute 4-H-ers. I hope I get asked back next year.

The featured photo here is of our hostess, Caroline Goodwin (San Mateo County PL), with David Perez and me. We were exhausted from running and having our picture taken, I think.

This is a shot of Poetess Kalamu Chaché — poetry spiritual leader and laureate of East Palo Alto.

photo by ann of jsb pkc and cg

This is the wall of poem entries. Dazzling.

poets against the wall of poems

Here’s one of me painting a “poem” on an art exhibit elsewhere at the fair. Photo credit by David Perez.

poem with jsb hand smc fair

Here’s a great pig.

fine pink pig

Here are some awesome jars of mango and lemon jam.

mango lemon jam and jsb


The rest of the photos can be seen on my Flickr album.

Poetry Cafe at Miller Middle School

Yesterday I had the delightful experience of attending the Poetry Cafe at Miller Middle School. Seventh-grade Language Arts teacher Kari Emerson has been holding the Poetry Cafe for the past 14 years; creating with her students a replica of a 1950s Beat-era cafe in her classroom. With posters, table cloths, fresh flowers, special lighting (including totally awesome lava lamps) and a stage, Room 2 is transformed. With student MCs, food servers and a band wearing black berets, the mood is authentic. Even the finger snapping to show appreciation for a poem is consistent with the hipster mood. (If you think you know what hipster means, think again…)

Poetry Cafe 2 door edited Poetry Cafe 11 banner Poetry Cafe 12 stage no kids

These kids all recited poems: some read their own work, others read Shakespeare, Robert Frost, Charles Mackay, Langston Hughes, Amy Lowell, William Blake. They read from folded pieces of paper, books, their iPhones and notes scribbled on their hands. A few parents read poems. Another teacher recited Maya Angelou’s poem “Still I Rise.” I stood up to the “stage” and recited Christina Rossetti’s “A Birthday.” There were poems by Jack Prelutsky and Shel Silverstein. After every reading, fingers snapped and the bongos rumbled. There was a wide range of work, from playful and silly to lyrics and ballads of real depth. A couple of lines resonated with me; Frost’s “I am the master of my soul” and Angelou’s quote “Try to be a rainbow in someone else’s cloud.” Ms. Emerson closed with a moving tribute to Maya Angelou. And through it all we enjoyed cookies, tea, juice and a great vibe.

Ms. Emerson and her students are to be commended for taking poetry into their lives in such a lovely and rigorous way. I was proud to be among their number yesterday. Cupertino, you have no idea what is in your midst, these young poets and poet appreciators are a force to be reckoned with.


Angela Narciso Torres and Peninsula Literary

Now it is Sunday, and I have missed two days of the Cupertino Poetry Exchange. I’m not quiet sure how that happened. My apologies.

Friday I attended a lovely reading of Peninsula Literary, a quarterly reading in Palo Alto. Here’s a bit of background: “Carrie Harper Hechtman has been a curator at Peninsula Literary for six years. Her poetry  appeared recently Meridian and is forthcoming in Denver Quarterly. She holds an MFA from University of San Francisco.” The readings take place in the fine Palo Alto art gallery, Gallery House, amidst paintings by Maura Carta and ceramics by Thomas Arakawa. It’s a great place for a reading and the format is welcoming and comfortable.

Friday’s reading featured John W. Evans, who read from his terrifying and inspiring memoir, and my good and sweet friend, Angela Narciso Torres. (The photo above is one that Angela’s son took after the reading; Angela and I with two good good friends from our old days in “The Nita Street Poets’ — a monthly writers workshop that kept us sane for several long learning years.)

I’d like to offer you Isla Mujeres, published in the DMQ Review. Please click through to read about “Waking up fevered in a foreign country, the bedclothes soaked –”  You’ll be glad you did. You can buy Angela’s book, Blood Orange, via Aquarius PressSmall Press Distribution,  and Amazon.


Local National Poetry Month Events

Cupertino Poet Laureate April Poetry Events

April 1 “Unsung Holidays: April Fool’s Day” Poetry Reading with Jennifer Swanton Brown and Guest poets: Stephanie Pressman & Amanda Williamsen, Peet’s Coffee & Tea, Stevens Creek Blvd, Cupertino 7-9 pm

April 4 Mary Avenue Dog Park Dedication, 5-6:30 pm

April 17 Art and Poetry: 5th Annual SJMA Poetry Invitational, San Jose Museum of Art “Initial Public Offering” poetry and art, 7 pm

April 19 Erica Goss & Friends Poetry Reading, Friends Bookstore, 110 East Main Street, Los Gatos, 2-4 pm

April 26/27 Cupertino Cherry Blossom Festival – Surprise poetry games and opportunities for the whole family! Memorial Park

Check out these local websites for all kinds of poetry month activities brought to you by my friends and colleagues.

Erica Goss: Los Gatos Poet Laureate
Starting with Book Launch Party for Vibrant Words: Ideas and Inspirations for Poets, Come and meet Erica and the members of PushPen Press for a reading and book-signing, CB Hannegan’s Restaurant, 208 Bachman Ave., Los Gatos CA 95030, Wednesday, April 2 at 6:00 pm

David Perez, Santa Clara County Poet Laureate
“National Poetry Month is upon us, and here are my upcoming events! Also, as many have requested, here is the video of the speech I gave at my reception. If you have questions, email me at If you want reminders as events get closer, follow my Twitter @dperezer. Enjoy your poetry month!”

San Mateo County Poet Laureate Caroline Goodwin
Including Tuesday, April 22 – 9:00 a.m., Poetry Reading at the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors Meeting, Board Chambers, 400 County Center, Redwood City