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Igniting Students' Passion For Poetry And Creative Writing

Students need to understand the power of poetry, the way it can crack issues wide open and start discussions or help a writer address personal problems that can be reflected in a universal way, so they not only help themselves, their poetry may actually help others as well.

That’s the power of poetry: to give voice to the voiceless, to give power to the pen, and to allow students to write freely. But this takes bravery both from the student writers and from the teachers themselves. When asked about themselves, students absolutely want to write. They want to share their pain and their triumphs. They want to explore emotions, imagery, and word play. They want to write, but they have not been given the tools, the platform, or the permission to write freely. In other words, the fire has not yet been lit, our hope is that this program will help ignite your students’ passion for writing.

When students are given the tools and the permission to be poets, the results blow our minds. And once that happens, they might actually want to read Shakespeare next.


Sam Pierstorff received his Master of Fine Arts degree in creative writing from CSU Long Beach and went on to become the youngest Poet Laureate ever appointed in the state of California when he was selected to the position in 2004 by the city of Modesto where he currently teaches English at Modesto Junior College. He is the creator of The Ill List , California's most prestigious annual poetry slam competition, and for more than a decade he has hosted SLaM on RyE, a wildly popular monthly open-mic event. As a performance poet himself, he won UC Merced's Grand Slam championship in April 2013 and the Rogue Festival Poetry Slam in 2014. He has published more than 200 poems in literary journals including Rattle, Clarion Review, Slipstream, and online at The Huffington Post and The Normal School. In 2014, his autobiographical story about growing up Muslim in America was selected as the opening piece in an anthology called Salaam, Love (Beacon Press) and he was subsequently invited to Harvard University to read and perform his work.

In 2015, he was selected as a "Teaching Artist" as part of The Gallo Center for the Arts' "Creativity at the Core" program (supported by the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts). Sam Pierstorff is the founding editor of Quercus Review Press, a small press publisher of poetry books, and his own debut poetry collection, Growing Up in Someone Else's Shoes, was published by World Parade Books in 2010. Most recently, he co-edited More Than Soil, More Than Sky: The Modesto Poets, which launched to #1 on Amazon's Poetry Best Seller list upon its release. He is is a recipient of an Award of Merit from the California Association of Teachers of English and a three-time Pushcart Prize nominee. You can follow Professor Pierstorff at @nanjapoet.


Catalog # EPF16030 ● ISBN: 978-1-933724-70-6 ● UPC: 6-82086-16030-6 ● NTSC

32 Minutes ● Copyright 2020 ● English, Spanish Subtitles