California Poets in the Schools

California Poets in the Schools

California Poets in the Schools’ vision is to enable youth in every California county to discover, cultivate and amplify their own creative voices through reading, analyzing, writing, performing and publishing…POETRY!!

When students learn to express their creativity, imagination, and intellectual curiosity through poetry, it becomes a catalyst for learning core academic subjects, accelerating emotional development and supporting personal growth. Our Poet-Teachers help students become adults who will bring compassion, understanding, and appreciation for diverse perspectives to the issues which their communities face.

California Poets in the Schools develops and empowers a multicultural network of independent Poet-Teachers, who bring the many benefits of poetry to youth throughout the State.

As a membership network, we offer opportunities for professional development, peer learning and fundraising assistance for Poet-Teachers in California. We also cultivate relationships with school districts, foundations, and arts organizations which can fund and support our members’ professional practices.


  PO Box 13288, Santa Rosa, CA 95402



Classroom Poetry Workshops

Program description

Never has it been so important to foster a sense of connection and belonging amongst our youth. Students today are dealing with extreme isolation brought on by a global pandemic, a massive racial reckoning in the Black Lives Matter movement and record-breaking, climate-change-induced wildfires forcing traumatic evacuations and blanketing the entire west coast in air too toxic to breathe. Mental health crises are on the rise, particularly amongst adolescents.

Poetry instruction, whether online or in person, cultivates human connection. The act of participating in a poetry class allows young people to feel immediately less isolated and can be a powerful step in helping to overcome loneliness.  Writing poetry also increases self and societal awareness, while cultivating ownership of one’s unique voice, thoughts and ideas. Writing poetry allows young people to contribute to the larger community dialogue on social justice, climate change and other pressing issues of our time. Sharing poetry aloud with peers can create bridges that foster empathy and understanding.

“Poetry is not a luxury. It is a vital necessity for our existence. It forms the quality of light from which we predicate our hopes and dreams toward survival and change, first into language, then into idea, then into more tangible action.”  Audre Lorde (1934-1992)

Professional poets (Poet-Teachers) are the backbone of the CalPoets’ program.  CalPoets’ Poet-Teachers are published professionals in their field who have completed an extensive training process in order to bring their craft into the classroom to inspire a new generation of young writers.  Poet-Teachers aim to build interest, engagement and a sense of belonging at school (helping to keep kids in school) amongst diverse groups of students from grades K through 12.  Poet-Teachers teach a standards-based curriculum geared towards building literacy and personal empowerment through the creative process.

​CalPoets lessons follow a tried and true arc that has been proven over the past five decades to elicit strong poetry from nearly every student every single lesson. This framework includes analysis of a socially relevant poem written by an acclaimed poet, followed by individual student writing where youth put into practice the techniques that were working well in the “famous poem,” followed by student performances of their own writing.  Class sessions often culminate in a formal reading and/or anthology.

Please contact us to begin the process of bringing a professional poet into your school.

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Booking / scheduling contact

Meg Hamill


Program detail
Artistic discipline: Literary Arts
Cultural Origin: Multicultural
Program type: Online/Streaming, Professional Development, Residency, Student Showcase Opportunities, Workshop/Class
Population served: Grade 01, Grade 02, Grade 03, Grade 04, Grade 05, Grade 06, Grade 07, Grade 08, Grade 09, Grade 10, Grade 11, Grade 12, Kindergarten
Subject: Language Arts, Other, Performing Arts
Bilingual: Yes
Available dates:

Various dates available

Available times:

Various times available


Two or more years of educational programming experience: Yes
Provides study guides for teachers and or students: Yes
Connects to State and or Common Core Curriculum Standards: Yes
Provides tools to assess student learning (workshops and residencies): Yes
Conducts ongoing assessments of program quality: Yes
Provides scholarship and reduced fees: Yes
Maintains general liability insurance: Yes
Criminal background check(s) available: Yes
Three letters of recommendation / references available: Yes