Young People Writing Poetry: from Eco-Crisis to Community Building (5 Week Class)

Jun 20, 2022 5:30 pm

Zoom + Hallberg Butterfly Garden 8687 Oak Grove Avenue Sebastopol, CA 95472


Learning to Trust Our Creative Voices as Poets!

About this Event
WHEN: First class Monday, June 20th over Zoom from 5:30-8:00pm. Thereafter, each class at Hallberg Butterfly Gardens on Thursdays, from 5:30-8:00pm, June 23rdth-July 21st

Community Reading Saturday, July 23rd, from 6-730pm (students meet at 5pm)

THE CLASS: In this five week, six course class, students will dive into the world of poetry as a way of processing the world around them. By studying modern poets, forms and topics, students will be encouraged to flex their own voices and speak up and out about their unique lives. Practicing Haibun to Animal Poems to Instructional Poems, students will leave with a portfolio of new work while having time to practice reading their poems to an audience. Skills covered will include giving and receiving feedback, revisions, writing first and last lines that slay, and the art of observation. We will twist and turn, explore, go down rabbit holes and come up as more experienced writers and thinkers. A wide and diverse collection of poets will be read, including Joy Harjo, Wanda Deglane, Christine Taylor, Donnika Kelley, Jane Hirshfield, Tongo Eisen Martin, Britta B, Aja Monet, and Kayleb Rae Candrilli. We will cover topics under the umbrella of the eco poem, including BIPOC and queer experiences, gentrification, radical change, grief and hope. Every session students will write about what it means to grow up knowing the ways of floods, fire season, pandemics, and community spirit. We will offer opportunities to work the natural world and self-care into our work while thinking and writing about resiliency, connection, and renewal.

Class will take place at the lovely Hallberg Butterfly Gardens situated Coast Miwok and Southern Pomo Land in Graton, CA. The gardens are a perfect landscape to explore the intersections of human and non-human worlds. Short walks will be taken daily (if your student has accessibility questions, please reach), and we will have a chance to observe the day give over to the evening. The heart of what we will do each session is WRITE POETRY, although the group will eat together while discussing poetry and homework assignments and just be together.

Homework will usually consist of writing and reading, and a few poetry videos (to watch at home) thrown in so that we may reflect on different reading styles. A parent or student email is required for class, although if this is not accessible for you, we can work around it.

At the end of the course, we will have a poetry reading for the community where friends and family can hear what we have been working on.

Who can take this course: Young people! Ages 12-15. This class will be a hate-free zone and queer friendly. Group agreements will be made in the first meeting. No previous poetry experience needed, but a love of writing is a plus!

WHEN: First class June 20th over Zoom 5:30-8:00pm. Thereafter, each class at Hallberg Butterfly Gardens on Thursdays, from 5:30-8:00pm, June 23rdth-July 21st

Community Reading Saturday, July 23rd, from 6-730pm (students meet at 5pm)

Supplies needed/suggested: headlamp, sack dinner and snack, water bottle with water in it, layered clothing, a backpack with writing materials (including a writing journal just for this class and several pencils, pen, eraser), hat, bug repellent and something to sit on (towel, picnic blanket, etc).

Cost of class: $350, total due upon registration. This cost covers all six classes and the community reading. The Eventbrite listing lists the class only on Monday the 20th, but it is actually six classes and a reading over 5 weeks!

*One scholarship is available, please inquire. (We hope to be able to provide more as we acquire grants and additional funding for programs)

This class will have 8 students total, so please sign up early as it is likely to sell out.


About the Instructor:

Kelly Gray is an educator, writer and mother living in West County. She’s been teaching her Holistic Childbirth Workshops for the past ten years, helping thousands of families through their childbearing years. Prior to the pandemic, Kelly trained as certified naturalist through the UC Naturalist Program, and as a raptor handler at the Bird Rescue Center of Santa Rosa, where she used to give presentations about bird life and conservation to all age groups, often with an owl or falcon on her arm. Although she’s always written for work, it was only in the last few years that she pursued her childhood dream of seeking publication. Since then, she has published the poetry collection Instructions for an Animal Body, an audio chap book My Fingers are Whales and Other Stories of Cetology, and her book of short stories is forthcoming in fall of 2022. She has been featured in many literary journals and anthologies, which makes her wonder… “What could have happened if I had pursued this dream when it first arrived?” There is no time for looking backwards, so Kelly’s poetry class is an attempt to answer that question for others by nurturing young people to trust their unique voice and perspective.