top of page


Developing Students' Creative Writing Skills

Poetry has been a powerful vehicle to get students to open up and speak their truths, to share their world views, and to build an unbreakable bond with their peers. Two activities are presented in this program that have worked very well in many classrooms and writing workshops: 1) An “Emotion Card Pre-Writing Activity” that quickly and easily demonstrates how a poem needs to “show not tell” and 2) a “Letter Poem” activity that will lead students toward a longer, more powerful, full-length poem. By integrating these easy-to-use classroom activities, the conversation around poetry and its use and purpose will fundamentally change for the better and students’ voices will be heard loud and clear, and poetry will be less intimidating to teach and a lot more enjoyable and essential for students to write.


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 # EPF16031 ● ISBN: 978-1-933724-71-3 ● UPC: 6-82086-16031-3 ● NTSC

37 Minutes ● Copyright 2020 ● English, Caption, Spanish Subtitles