Firehouse Arts Center Hosts 10th Annual Poetry, Prose and Arts Festival

The old combines with the new as the 10th annual Pleasanton Poetry, Prose and Arts Festival unfolds for the first time in the City's recently opened Firehouse Arts Center on 4444 Railroad Avenue on March 26 and 27.

Always an eagerly anticipated event, this year's festival welcomes Al Young, California's Poet Laureate from 2005 to 2008, as keynote speaker. The two-day celebration of writing features workshops, contests, musical performances, and a fine arts exhibit.

Young, the author of 22 books of poetry, fiction, and non-fiction, is a two-time winner of the Pushcart Prize. Over his long career his work has garnered numerous awards and honors, including Guggenheim, Fulbright, and Woodrow Wilson fellowships. Currently the visiting writer at California College of the Arts in San Francisco, he has taught writing classes at some of the country's preeminent institutions of higher learning, from Stanford and U.C. Santa Cruz to the University of Michigan to Bennington College in Vermont.

He will be joined by close to a dozen accomplished Bay Area writers presenting a total of 20 poetry and prose workshops in morning and afternoon sessions over the weekend. The literary luminaries include: David Alpaugh, Julia Connor, Lisa Gentile, Susan Woolridge, Adair Lara, Alison Luterman, Connie Post, Kathryn Reiss, Kim Rosen, Lee Rossi, and Nina Schuyler.

Several of the workshops will have a joint adult/teen audience, while some are reserved for adults and a few are offered exclusively for teens (ages 13 to 19). A special Sunday afternoon youth poetry workshop will lead youngsters (ages 5 to 11) in an exploration of the magic of words.

Also new at the festival this year are two independent art workshops in downtown Pleasanton: the Carol Maddox Watercolor Landscape Workshop, Saturday morning, and the Jan Mahood Essential Creativity Workshop, in the afternoon. Both will be held at the Veteran's Hall Building on Main Street. Registration for the independent workshops is separate, and space is limited.

Art lovers who prefer to take a more passive role will enjoy the festival's Saturday afternoon Fine Arts Show and Literary Row, an opportunity to meet the authors and enjoy music, a reception, and book signings, presented by the Pleasanton Art League.

The festival also includes contests in various literary categories and age groups, the youngest of which is devoted to children aged four to seven. Winning poems will be read and a total of $1,200 in prizes will be handed out at Saturday evening's Banquet and Awards Ceremony.

The literary weekend is sponsored by the Pleasanton Cultural Arts Council (PCAC). Committed to the nurturing spirit of the arts, the all-volunteer, non-profit PCAC promotes, creates, and supports arts institutions, experiences, facilities, and opportunities for the enrichment of the Tri-Valley area.

Festival registration fees vary according to the level of workshop participation. Complete information and registration forms are available at or by contacting Michelle Russo at (925) 931-5350 or . Registration forms for the festival must be postmarked by March 15. The deadline for the contest has passed.

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