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Real Poets pairs trained volunteer mentors—each of them practicing poets—with young people who have been through a lot in their lives. It doesn’t matter whether a young poet has ever written before. All that matters is his or her willingness to write from the heart. We have worked with youth from as young as six years old up to 22.

The program was started in 2013 and is hosted by the non-profit mental health organization Turning Point Community Programs. Real Poets is a project of the Sacramento Poetry Center, with mentoring from Pongo Teen Writing Project founder Richard Gold and 916 Ink founder Katie McCleary.

Real Poets is led by Alex Russell, who volunteered as a poet mentor in Seattle Juvenile Detention through Pongo in 2010. A writing professional and former lecturer at UC Davis, he has taught grades K-12 in California, and has tutored in Shoreline Public Housing in Washington State.

To learn more about the program, send a note to Alex on this form.