Pleasanton Weekly

Arts & Entertainment - March 5, 2010

Poets unite

Registration is open for the ninth annual Poetry, Prose and Arts Festival

With a growing interest in literary arts in Pleasanton, it is natural for the city's poetry festival to expand as well.

In its ninth year, the Poetry, Prose and Arts Festival is back with new workshops, contests, an awards banquet, arts events and a keynote address from storyteller Bob Jenkins. The two-day event is hosted by the city as well as the Pleasanton Cultural Arts Council and will take place from April 17 to 18 at the senior center, located at 5353 Sunol Blvd.

Due to popular demand from young writers, the festival has mostly expanded in its offerings for teens.

"We have a full two days of teen workshops," said festival co-chair Dave Wright. "We've never had more than two workshops (for teens) before."

The focus on supporting young poets is a passion of Wright's, who has chaired the festival for all its nine years.

"People who get into writing and expressing themselves early on carry it with them their whole lives," he said. "A lot has to be put into words and the fact that people are putting into words what most deeply touches them in poetry and prose, that starts early on."

Wright, who has taught at Las Positas College in Livermore for several years, said he's often had students say they knew they were going to be writers from as young as age 6.

"I see these opportunities as life changing," he said. "They have experiences that really set them off."

In addition to programs for teens, there are workshops for children, starting at age 6, as well as adults. There are also some new types of workshops, including songwriting lyrics and storytelling, the latter thanks to keynote speaker Jenkins.

Wright is also excited for the mini courses: "On the Chapbook" by Rebecca Foust and "Putting the Pieces Together: The Six Elements of Fiction" by Ann Parker.

These mini-courses, he said, allow people to go more in-depth as each carries over from Saturday to Sunday.

In addition to literary arts, there will also be other art forms for the community to enjoy. The Pleasanton Art League will have a free exhibition that is open to the public from 1 to 2:30 p.m. April 17. Also during that time will be the popular Literary Row, a reception and book signing that connects authors with readers. There are also various musicians that will be playing throughout the weekend.

All of these newest features are quite a jump from when Wright and others put the event together in 2001. It has grown to attract about 100 people from Pleasanton and afar. First held at CarrAmerica before the Pleasanton Senior Center, the Pleasanton Cultural Arts Council is excited to eventually move the festival to the Firehouse Arts Center next year.

Wright said he hopes the venue between Railroad Avenue and Lions Wayside Park would allow them to have more music and art in addition to the literary event. It would also help bring more people into restaurants and shops downtown, he added.

Until then, the literary arts lovers can sign up for this year's event, with early registration open through March 15 and the final registration deadline April 9. A full-weekend package is $160-$185 for adults and $120-$145 for teens. The Saturday youth session is $15-$20. One-day only packages are also available. Tickets to the awards banquet on Saturday night are $35.

Details as well as registration and contest forms can be found at

2010 Poetry, Prose and Arts Festival schedule

Saturday, April 17

8:30 a.m. Festival registration and breakfast

9:15 a.m. Opening ceremony

9:30 a.m. Keynote address

10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Morning workshops

1 to 2:30 p.m. Buffet lunch, music, literary row, PAL fine arts show and reception

2:30 to 5 p.m. Afternoon workshops

5:15 to 7 p.m. Festival banquet and awards ceremony with music and door prizes

Sunday, April 18

9 a.m. Breakfast

9:30 a.m. to noon Morning workshops

Noon to 1 p.m. Buffet lunch

1 to 3:30 p.m. Afternoon workshops

--Emily West


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