Soul of Place: Inaugural Sierra Poetry Festival

TO LAUNCH NATIONAL POETRY Month, the Nevada County Arts Council is hosting the inaugural Sierra Poetry Festival on April 1.

Activities will include a keynote address by California’s Poet Laureate Dana Gioia, along with a plethora of local, national and international poets and performers. The group includes Al Young, Genny Lim, Molly Fisk, Maya Khosla, Sands Hall, Gail Brandeis, MK Chavez and others.

Pre-festival pop-up poetry will bring poetry off its pedestal and onto the streets. NCArts also is planning a fair for booksellers, agents, poets, publishers and other literary vendors.

“For this, our first year, there will be a strong flavor of local talent and opportunity, with poets, critics and visionaries gathering to explore and celebrate the many ways that poetry can act as an agent for change,” says NCArts Executive Director Eliza Tudor.

The festival chose “Soul of Place” as its theme for the first year. “Soul of Place calls out to each of us in different ways yet it remains somehow grounded in what is meaningful to us here in the Sierra,” says Tudor.

Nevada County’s first Poet Laureate program will be announced during the festival in partnership with the County Board of Supervisors. “The role of Poet Laureate will aid the integration of poetry into the community as well as enhancing Nevada County’s position as a cultural center,” says Tudor.

The California Arts Council is supporting the inaugural event, and partners include Sierra College, local businesses and nonprofits. “We love that the festival is geared as much to our young as to our establishment,” says Julie Chiarelli, general manager of KVMR, one of the partners.

NCArts will work with its California Poets in the Schools’ teachers and with local schools, including the coming year’s Poetry Out Loud participants. “We want inspiring fledgling writers to gather round, get motivated and dive in,” says Julie Valin of the World Boutique and a Poets in the Schools teacher.

In eastern Nevada County, co-coordinator Kat Kerrey of Tangled Roots Writing adds, “Presenting a countywide festival will bring our two communities together and harness a growing talent base and some serious interest in different aspects of poetry that we normally don’t consider.”

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