Grant to fund new poetry, literacy workshops for Imperial Valley Latinx high schoolers

Developed and led by SDSU Imperial Valley psychology professor Donna Castañeda, the workshops will begin later this year.

Tuesday, April 2, 2024
Photo of Donna Castañeda
The $5,000 grant will launch the workshops in early fall, which will be open to the public. (Photo courtesy of Donna Castañeda)

Latinx high school students in Imperial Valley will soon have the opportunity to expand their creativity in poetry and literature through a new, novel workshop made possible through a new grant. Recently, Donna Castañeda, SDSU Imperial Valley psychology professor, was awarded a $5,000 grant from California Humanities to create poetry workshops and resources in the region.

The project entitled “Latinx Youth and Poetry in Imperial County” will consist of six workshops. With expertise in the topics of ethnicity, close relationships and health, Castañeda hopes the workshops will inspire high school-aged students to dive into poetry as a career aspiration and strengthen their personal artistic journey.

“As a border-connected region, our youth hold unique experiences and backgrounds,” said Castañeda. “We have great resources in the Imperial Valley to express and share our artwork. I hope these upcoming workshops will be an additional support for our youth to have a safe space to strengthen their poetry skills.”

The poetry workshops will focus on developing both poetry and presentation skills, and include  spoken word sessions. According to Castañeda, the workshops are designed to be highly interactive and incorporate elements that may be lesser known, like the decima espinela, a poetic form that originated in the Canary Islands of Spain, but are historically and culturally important.

A local poet will also attend each session to showcase their writing and share  how poetry can be used in everyday life.

“Our artists will share what it means to be a local, working poet. I want them to feel a sense of pride in their creativity since we are located in such a unique region,” said Castañeda. “Our youth hold many talents. Through these workshops, we hope they use poetry as a mode of expression since it can be so central to their identity and growth.”

The workshops are expected to begin by fall 2024 in the central part of Imperial Valley. Additional information on how to participate is forthcoming.

“All of our events will be free for students to attend and create their own writings, so students also have the opportunity to publish their work in their local high school or local publications,” Castañeda said.

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