California Poets in the Schools helps students have confidence in their own voices and the courage to speak out. This year we believe it is time to listen to those voices speak out about climate change—through poetry. The climate crisis is real and the involvement of those working in the creative industries is absolutely crucial to waking us all up– for, who better than a poet to remind everyone that it is always possible to recreate the world? We need more creative thinkers, more poets, in order to help us find solutions to the climate crisis.
To this end, California Poets in the Schools kicked off this school year by inviting the young people in our classes to explore their thoughts and feelings about the climate crisis - through poetry. Thanks to generous funding from Molly Fisk, Inaugural PoetLaureate of Nevada County, via her Academy of American Poets Laureate Fellow grant, 36 classrooms in 18 counties were each granted five climate-themed poetry lessons at no cost with our professional Poet-Teachers. We’ll be collecting these poems in our 2020 climate-themed anthology, due out in a year. Keep your eyes peeled!
The hundreds of students who took part in these special workshops, and the thousands of others in our regular residencies, wrote about fire and smoke, water, agriculture, protest and hope for the future. They used poetry to imagine the climate crisis, potential solutions, and their own personal responsibility, as in this poem written by Pearl McKay, a fifth grader in Sonoma County:
To Be the Change
Take 2 cups of bravery.
Put 2 tablespoons of heroism in a large container.
Mix with your hands until it’s sifted through.
Pour in a cup of intelligence.
Cook in a pan seared with urgency at 100° F. for 100 seconds until you can feel the change inside of you.
You can tell when it’s done by tasting it. Let cool until it radiates power.
Add a sprinkle of hope.
Slice it up.
Serve it to all the people of the world one sliver at a time.
Pearl McKay, 5th grade Apple Blossom School, Sonoma County
Dylan Licciardo, Classroom Teacher Jackie Huss Hallerberg, Poet-Teacher
Please donate what you can to help us inspire over 22,000 young people with the power of poetry in 2020. Our goal is to raise $60,000 by December 31st.