Poetry Jam

No place, not even a wild place, is a place until it has had that human attention that at its highest reach we call poetry.
— Wallace Stegner

When a public poetry project was proposed for the Studio City Greenway, the community wanted to use poets from their own backyard. The River Project saw this as a perfect opportunity to begin to put Stegner’s premise into practice.

We created an educational program focused on the Los Angeles River watershed. Using in-class study, field trips and supportive curricula linking literacy, community and the environment, hundreds of students discovered the river and came to understand its natural and cultural history in a way most Angelenos never experience. We encouraged the students to respond to what they learned through poetry, and to use the power of their words to help others come to understand the river and see it as a place worthy of our attention and stewardship.

Nearly 200 poems were submitted to a panel of judges which included Fred Dewey, director of Beyond Baroque Poetry Center; Natalie Cole director of the California Center for the Book; and Adele Slaughter and Dan Vining, two published poets from Studio City. Forty-six student finalists had the opportunity to perform their work before a live audience at TRP’s LA River Poetry Jam, held at CBS Studios and hosted by the Tony-award winning poet Poetri. The audience helped the judges narrow their selections down to 1st, 2nd and 3rd place selections in each grade level.

Some of the winning entries were permanently inscribed in a public art project on the Studio City Greenway between Laurel Canyon and Whitsett. Inspired by so many wonderful poems, The River Project has proposed including more poems throughout the Studio City Greenway and installing an interpretive gate comprised of words about water.

We want to acknowledge the support of the dedicated teachers who brought forth such marvelous talent in their students: Beverly Allen, Brooke Belsey and Nasi Kaufman of Carpenter Avenue Elementary School; and John Chaissen and Randy Vail of North Hollywood High School’s Naturalist Academy. Their commitment to community is what makes Studio City unique. We applaud all the students for their extraordinary work and thank them for their vision, creativity, and compassion.

If you would like us to send you a booklet containing the poems of the 46 student finalists, please send us a note and enclose $5.