Get Ready for Poetry Month in April

April is National Poetry Month

Learn more about our literary history. California has inspired many poets and artists over the years.

four local poets

Four Forgotten Local Legends: California Poets at the San Jose Public Library

Four Forgotten Local Legends: California Poets, an exhibit that highlights four California poets; Ina Coolbrith, Edwin Markham, Bret Harte and Edith Daley, is on the 5th floor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library through May 31, 2018.

ina coolbrith, calisphere

Ina Coolbrith

Ina Donna Coolbrith was born Josephine D. Smith on March 10, 1842, near Springfield, Illinois. Ina entered California in 1851 as part of a wagon train led by James P. Beckwourth across the Sierra Nevadas. She began writing verses when she was 11 and saw them published in the local papers under the pen name Ina. In 1915, at the age of 74, Coolbrith was bestowed the honor of becoming California’s first Poet Laureate. In 1919, poet/librarian/teacher Ina Coolbrith began meeting with kindred literary spirits at her home in San Francisco.She mentored a generation of young readers including Jack London and Isadora Duncan.

I want, the Circle to live and be ever widening... to perpetually keep the history and literature…of California alive.... - Ina Coolbrith

marcom calisphere

Edwin Markham

Charles Edward Anson Markham (1852-1940), later known as Edwin, was the youngest of nine children, born on April 23, 1852, in Oregon City, Oregon. Markham graduated from the California State Normal School in 1872. Markham resided in San Jose for some time. His famous poem, "The Man with the Hoe," was written in a small home at 432 South Eighth Street. The house has been moved to History Park and serves as headquarters of Poetry Center San Jose.

Poetry writing is as practical as bread-making; and, from a high ground, it is just as necessary to the life of man. Poetry is bread for the spirit: it is the bread that is made of earthly wheat and yet is mixed with some mystic tincture of the skies. It nourishes all the higher hopes and aspirations of man - Edwin Markham

bret harte from calisphere

Bret Harte

Bret Harte was born Francis Brett Hart on August 25, 1836 in Albany, New York. At age 11 he had a poem published in the New York Sunday Morning Atlas. At age 18 he traveled to California in 1854, where he worked as a prospector, a teacher and for Wells Fargo. In 1857 he began his journalistic career when he was employed by the Northern Californian in 1860 he became first editor of the Overland Monthly in San Francisco. He is best known for his short fiction featuring miners, gamblers, and other romantic figures of the California Gold Rush.

If, of all words of tongue and pen, The saddest are, 'It might have been,' More sad are these we daily see: 'It is, but hadn't ought to be. - Bret Harte

edith daley from calisphere

Edith Daley

Edith Daley was born in Fostoria, Ohio, on January 1, 1876. She moved to California in 1906 eventually living in San Jose at 633 Palm Haven Avenue. She was a columnist and writer for the San Jose Evening News through 1922 where she wrote colorful and in-depth articles on local industries. Daley served as the City Librarian of San Jose and continued to write poetry published in various anthologies. She served as the president of San Jose Poetry Club.

A strange city - San Jose. Strangely kind - strangely full of friends. - Edith Daley

emergency pocket poem

Emergency Pocket Poems

Pick up a poem in preparation for April 26, 2018 Poem in Your Pocket Day. Poems will be available throughout the month of April in the California Room. Choose a poem that inspires you and carry it with you to keep and reread or take one to pass on. You never know when a poem will come in handy.


Learn More

Follow these links to learn more about poetry and poetry month:

Read More

Read more about it at the Library (poetry is classified 811 on the shelf):

Explore the California Room

Check out these items in the California Room:


Thank you for such a lovely inspirational article...full of information and good to look at as well.

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