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Ecopoetry Festival

May 02, 2016 01:50PM ● By Jennifer Neys

Ecopoetry AHS Creative Writing Students

Ecopoetry Festival Features Students and Notable Poets 

On Saturday, May 21, the Muir Poetry Project will proudly present the third annual Ecopoetry Festival in Martinez. This is a joint effort of Alhambra High School’s Creative Writing Program, under the direction of teacher Eliot Schain, and the John Muir National Historic Site.

Celebrated poets Robert Hass, Brenda Hillman, and Matthew Zapruder will read from their work, as well as discuss how poetic language can improve our relationship with the natural world. Hass is former Poet Laureate of the United States and teaches at U.C. Berkeley. Hillman is current chancellor for the Academy of American Poets and teaches at St. Mary’s College. Zapruder serves as poetry editor for the New York Times magazine and also teaches at St. Mary’s. They each have received many prestigious awards and been published widely. 

In addition to the distinguished poets, several Alhambra students will have an opportunity to read their own Ecopoetry to an audience as well. The creative writing program has been especially transformative to senior Meghan McCauley, who describes her experience in Schain’s class as “a free environment; there’s nowhere else on campus where you can express yourself this freely. It’s a trusting room and very down to earth. It’s a good place for kids to have an outlet and be able to express themselves through the vehicle of poetry.” 

Schain, a published poet himself, has been teaching at Alhambra High School for over 20 years and has left an impression on his students. “He’s changed everybody’s life in that class. You can literally see everybody developing. It’s one of the best experiences I’ve had in high school,” remarked Meghan.

The event is part of an ongoing celebration of the National Park System’s 100th Anniversary. Meghan and her creative writing classmates will be at the festival, and she expressed that the community should not overlook this opportunity because “there could be a lot gained from listening to the poets and their thoughts on how we can improve the environment and the world as a whole, and how we can directly help.” 

Admission is free, but reservations are required, as seating is limited. Call the Muir House at (925) ­228-­8860, to reserve your spot. The event will take place from 5­-7:30pm in the parlor of the John Muir House in Martinez. For more details, contact James MacDonald of the John Muir National Historical Site at (925) ­228-­8860 (ext. 6431) or Eliot Schain at [email protected]