‘Mighty Pens’ Read with Island Poets

Courtesy photo    Members of the student poetry club “The Mighty Pens” teamed up with the Alameda Island Poets for a reading May 1. Left to right, back row: Cat Crawford, Sammy Oster, Truly Edison, Josie Whittock, Cathy Dana; front row, left to right: Elizabeth Pelaez Norris, Ellie Dodds, Phoenix McCain-Novakowski.

Student poets from Alameda Community Learning Center (ACLC) and St. Joseph Notre Dame High School were featured together at the Alameda Island Poets reading at the Frank Bette Center for the Arts May 1. ACLC’s Poetry Club “The Mighty Pens” showed off their 2019 collection of poetry, featuring poems from more than 25 students. The enthusiastic crowd was highly impressed by the quality of poetry.

Along with students, St. Joe’s faculty members read poems. Cat Crawford, who has taught English at Oakland and Alameda high schools and Elizabeth Peláez Norris, who has taught Spanish and English for 35 years at St. Joseph Notre Dame High School both read poems. 

In 1991, Norris founded and served as adviser to PRISMS, the school’s award-winning literary magazine. More than 100 of her students have been inducted into her Star Society of Creative Writers for being published in outside magazines and anthologies. Since 2009, she has chosen the high school’s poet laureate from a talented pool of rising poets. 

In 2012, Cathy Dana, teacher of creative expressions at ACLC, and a current poet laureate for the City of Alameda, founded a school-wide poetry club called The Mighty Pens with the hope of sharing her lifelong love of poetry and the exquisite beauty of words. 

The group meets weekly to write and share poetry, culminating each year in an anthology of student poems, entitled Wandering Minds, Dancing Words. The Mighty Pens have read poetry at Multicultural Night, Books Inc., the Ina Coolbrith Circle, Poetry Express and the Dancing Poetry Festival. Each year a student is chosen as ACLC poet laureate. Each week they choose a “poet of the week” to read a poem to the entire school.

For more on the Mighty Pens or the Alameda Island Poets, contact Dana at 205-2375 or visit http://cathyedana.wordpress.com.