Family Literacy Project Fundraiser a wild success!
Posted by bububooks on February 10, 2010
In November, we at bububooks decided to sponsor a poet, Jacey, for the 30 Poems in 30 Days Project. The organizer, Northampton poet laureate Lesléa Newman, set a goal to raise $3,000 to help the Center for New Americans (CNA), a non-profit community-based education and resource center for immigrants, refugees, and other limited English speakers in the Pioneer Valley of Massachusetts. The organization offers free English classes, free literacy classes, free child care for students, family literacy, and many other services.
Jacey wrote 30 poems, one each day from Nov. 1 – 30, 2009. She has graciously provided us with one to post here (and I like it a lot!). The 30 Poems in 30 Days fundraiser raised $12,040.50, wildly beating Newman’s goal. We were glad and are proud to have contributed to this noble cause. Below Jacey’s poem, check out the press release for more details on CNA and the 30 Poems in 30 Days project.
Congratulations Jacey and thank you for letting us be a part of this project!
This Lady, June Baby
Daddy found my name lint-thick
in the front pocket of his Wranglers.
Faded blue, classic cut, dusty as hell,
stacked over his life-worn Ropers.
Hands rummage past pocket watch.
Dig down deep for decent quarters
to buy a Pepsi to pass the time,
while I was being born.
It was sweaty hot and Mama,
was a hellcat, yelling about snap peas,
pushing and waiting, cursing,
crying for it to end and me to begin.
Daddy just wanted some cold,
fast break from that dirty heat.
Uncovered four 1980 quarters,
his wedding band, my me.
Doc shook his cornhusker
hands. Daddy just smiled then.
Held me slow, said: Blue.
You’ll be my June girl.
30 Poems in 30 Days Project Raises More Than $11,000 for the Center for New Americans Family Literacy Project
This past November, Northampton poet laureate Lesléa Newman issued a challenge to the poets of the Pioneer Valley: Write 30 poems in 30 days and find sponsors to pledge a dollar amount per poem to raise money for literacy. Not only was the challenge met, but it exceeded Newman’s wildest dreams.
“About 75 poets participated in the project,” Newman said. “Most of them were from the Pioneer Valley, but there were also poets from Georgia, Louisiana, Illinois and Colorado. Poets got very excited about both the challenge of writing a poem a day, and the opportunity to use poetry to raise money for literacy.”
Newman, who wrote a poem a day and raised about $700 on her own, hosted a reading and celebration of the project at the Forbes Library on December 2nd. About 45 poets read to an audience of 100 people. “It was very exciting,” she said. “There were several poets there reading to a live audience for the first time, there were poets who had published books and won awards, and there was everyone inbetween. Every poet and poem was greeted with wild enthusiasm.”
Jim Ayres, the Executive Director of the Center for New Americans, which serves families and individuals from more than fifty countries who together speak over thirty-five languages, is thrilled about the success of the project. “We are all touched by the number of writers and sponsors who stepped up to meet Lesléa’s challenge. The valley is very fortunate to have such a talented, engaged, and generous literary community,” Ayres said. “The donations raised will allow us to expand our early childhood staffing so as to increase the number of families who can benefit from the family literacy project.” The project offers free English classes, free literacy classes, and many other services.
The Northampton Arts Council fully funds and supports the poet laureate position. The “30 Poems in 30 Days” challenge was Newman’s final project as poet laureate. During her two-year term which concludes at the end of this year, Newman hosted a “Lunch with the Laureate” series, distributed poetry books to waiting rooms as part of her “Poetry to Wait By” project, initiated the Paradise Poetry Prize, and edited a bi-weekly column for the Daily Hampshire Gazette called “Here a Poet, There a Poet” which will be published in book form next year, funded in part by a grant from the Northampton Arts Council. Newman says she will definitely miss being poet laureate. “I met so many fabulous poets and poetry-lovers,” she said. “It was a fantastic opportunity. One of the highlights of my writing career.” As for the future, Newman plans on remaining an active member of the poetry community, while turning her attention to her own writing. “After all,” she laughed, “I’ve got drafts of thirty new poems to rewrite.”