From the introduction to Speak Poetry Vol. 1:

When I was appointed Poet Laureate of San Mateo County, I was tasked with creating a poetry campaign to bridge and engage communities through the literary arts. My project, titled, “Speak Poetry,” is an ongoing conversation, where we’re given the opportunity to get to know people and the rhythm of their everyday lives.

Our county is singularly diverse, in terms of its geography and its demographics. And in this landscape, we have the space to bring to the fore the individual voices which make up our community. This anthology features 23 poets from around San Mateo County, ages 13-78, as they reflect on community—how they perceive it and/or themselves in it.

As an immigrant, I came to America with a luggage overpacked with poems and the unshakable conviction that I can be a poet here. I learned the most important lessons from being part of a community, that is, to be a poet is to help build, gather, restore. It’s about hope, that great unifier, which transforms lives, which fortifies communities, which changes the world.

Aileen Cassinetto

*Book cover image by Eric Forgaard