Salinas, CA -- Today National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Chairman Dana Gioia joined U.S. Representative Sam Farr (California-17th District) at the National Steinbeck Center to announce grants to three California organizations for The Big Read: The Poetry of Robinson Jeffers, a celebration of the poet and of Tor House, Jeffers's family home in Carmel. The Robinson Jeffers Tor House Foundation, the National Steinbeck Center, and the University of California, Santa Cruz, will each receive a grant to host a range of activities centering on Jeffers's life and work. A component of the NEA's national reading program The Big Read, these grants are part of a pilot initiative in partnership with the Poetry Foundation to celebrate the nation's historic poetry sites. The program launched in September 2007 with a grant to Longfellow's Wayside Inn to support activities celebrating the life and work of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.
"I am delighted to partner with the Poetry Foundation to celebrate the great American poet Robinson Jeffers and his deep connection to California and to our nation's Pacific coast," said NEA Chairman Dana Gioia. "Jeffers's hard-edged yet musical poetry continues to challenge and inspire all Americans to greater care and stewardship of our natural resources, and it's fitting that we announce these grants here in the landscape that he so loved."
"The Central Coast has a rich history of literary genius, from the powerful works of John Steinbeck to the moving poetry of Violet de Cristoforo," said Rep. Farr. "The NEA's support for these programs highlighting the life and work of Robinson Jeffers helps build on this tradition. It's important to our communities to keep our history alive, and there is no better tool to instill an appreciation for art in our youth than to let them experience just how moving it can be."
The Robinson Jeffers Tor House Foundation will receive a grant of $15,000 to support a month-long, bilingual celebration of Jeffers throughout Monterey County. Expected to launch during the annual Tor House Foundation Fall Festival on October 10-12, programming will include activities such as poetry readings, book giveaways, workshops, and guided tours at Tor House and other locations.
Poetry Foundation President John Barr said, "Tor House is an inseparable part of what Robinson Jeffers wrote about and lived for. The Poetry Foundation joins with the NEA in celebrating the home of a major American poet."
The National Steinbeck Center will receive a grant of $17,000 to support an exhibition showcasing Jeffers's poetry along with photographs of the poet, Tor House, and California. Jeffers is the first poet, and only the second writer other than John Steinbeck, to be the focus of a Steinbeck Center exhibit. Earlier this year, the center received a grant from the NEA to support a Big Read program on Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451.
A third grant of $5,000 will go to the University of California, Santa Cruz, to host a symposium on the work of Jeffers. The evening celebration will feature a keynote address on Jeffers's life and work, a staged reading of his adaptation of Medea, and readings by award-winning poets, including Adrienne Rich, Li-Young Lee, and Mark Jarman.
The NEA will provide all three sites with educational and promotional materials -- underwritten by the Poetry Foundation -- similar to those created for the national Big Read program. These materials, which also will be distributed to local schools, include reader's and teacher's guides to Jeffers's works and a poster.
About the National Endowment for the Arts
The National Endowment for the Arts is a public agency dedicated to supporting excellence in the arts, both new and established; bringing the arts to all Americans; and providing leadership in arts education. Established by Congress in 1965 as an independent agency of the federal government, the Arts Endowment is the nation's largest annual funder of the arts, bringing great art to all 50 states, including rural areas, inner cities, and military bases. For more information on the National Endowment for the Arts, please visit www.arts.gov.
About the Poetry Foundation
The Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry magazine, is an independent literary organization committed to a vigorous presence for poetry in our culture. It exists to discover and celebrate the best poetry and to place it before the largest possible audience. For more information on the Poetry Foundation, please visit www. poetryfoundation.org.
About the Robinson Jeffers Tor House Foundation
The Robinson Jeffers Tor House Foundation, affiliated with the National Trust for Historic Preservation, is a nonprofit organization of volunteer members established in 1978 to acquire, maintain and provide for public access to Tor House, Hawk Tower and the surrounding gardens. The Foundation sponsors events and publishes material designed to preserve and extend the cultural and literary legacy of Robinson Jeffers, poet of California.
About the National Steinbeck Center
The National Steinbeck Center is a museum and cultural institution whose mission is to tell the story of John Steinbeck's rich legacy, and to present, create and explore stories of the human condition. The Center offers three visitor experiences. The John Steinbeck Exhibition Hall houses seven themed theaters with film clips and interactive exhibits from the Nobel prize-winning author's works. The Rabobank Agriculture Museum explores the stories of the Salinas Valley "from field to fork." And the Center offers its own changing art and cultural exhibits and a variety of educational and public programs. For more information please visit www.steinbeck.org.
About the University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC)
UCSC is one of ten campuses of the University of California -- universally recognized as the top public university system in the world. Begun in 1965 on the undergraduate residential college model, UCSC now includes more than 15,000 students enrolled in 63 undergraduate majors and 34 masters and doctoral degree programs. The campus is very strong in the environmental and physical sciences, but also is known for its stellar humanities graduates and faculty, particular its writers and poets.
National Endowment for the Arts · an independent federal