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Poetry takes center stage in city of Salinas
City's official poem to be unveiled

Roberto M. Robledo, The Salinas Californian, April 2014


This week in the city of Salinas

Let nothing or no one come between us

We will celebrate rhyme

Well, it’s about time!

So the world can acknowledge Salinas

— Anonymous


There is rhyme to the reason and reason to the rhyme. It’s Salinas Week of Poems. The city is devoting the next four days to poetry from all walks. Serving as masters of ceremony are the community’s two designated rhyme-meisters: Salinas Poet Laureate James B. Golden and Salinas Youth Poet Laureate Miguel “Mikey the Poet” Frias.


On Tuesday, Golden will unveil the city’s official poem, “Wave to Salinas,” which he penned in tribute to his hometown. The recital will take place at City Hall.


On Wednesday, elementary school-age children will read their poems at a forum planned just for them.On Thursday, Frias will host the annual Youth Poetry Slam, an event he won in 2013 and which led to his laureate crown.Golden is also visiting local schools this week. He will recite at his alma mater, North Salinas High School (Class of 2003), as well as Hartnell College, Everett Alvarez High and Harden Middle School.On Friday, Golden will cap a week’s worth of praising poetry at Sherwood Hall. There, he will read from and sign copies of this fourth book, “BULL: The Journey of a Freedom Icon.”In a phone interview Monday, Golden said he now lives in Los Angeles. He also writes for magazines. His parents, James W. and Valerie Golden, still live in the Prunedale area. As Salinas’ poet laureate, he comes to town every few months for programs and events.


Golden said he originally wrote “Wave to Salinas” in 2012. But it has undergone revisions as he has visited over the past few years.“I had time to reflect and edit as I spent more time in Salinas,” Golden said. “I wanted to make sure it’s perfect because it’s forever and speaks to what Salinas means to the world.”Inspiration for the poem came primarily from the residents of Salinas, its diversity and struggles for survival.“It’s debuting for the first time tomorrow,” Golden said. “Nobody’s heard it.”...


Salinas Week of Poems is meant to promote poetry and cultivate a love for it, Golden said. In the coming year, Golden said he plans to advocate for including poetry in the school curriculum, “get it into every grade level and encourage creative arts as a part of learning,” he said.


And Monterey County can use all the help it can get to boost learning. According to the Early Childhood Development Initiative:• Only 33 percent of third-graders read at grade level.• Only half of parents with kids entering kindergarten read to them daily.• 38 percent of the mothers in the county have less than a high schooleducation.


Golden was named the first Poet Laureate of Salinas in April 2013, a post he will hold until April 2015. He was awarded the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work in 2012 for his second book, “Afro Clouds & Nappy Rain.”His newest book “BULL” traces his father’s migration from the Jim Crow era in the South to California during the Civil Rights Movement.


Follow Roberto M. Robledo on Twitter @robledo_salnews #salinas.

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