The Care Center

Established in 1986, The Care Center in Holyoke, MA, provides alternative-education for pregnant and parenting teens. Its young women, many of them Spanish-speakers, earn their high-school equivalency diplomas, with the support of on-site day care, parenting training, job placement, personal and career counseling, arts programming and athletics. We’ve facilitated visits to The Care Center’s poetry class by a string of poets in our series, including Demetria Martinez, Joy Harjo, Nikky Finney, Barbara Ras, Naomi Shihab Nye, Aleida Rodriguez, Mark Doty, and Sharon Olds. Ellen Watson spent a lively session discussing translation with the student group editing the Care Center’s bilingual literary journal, Nautilus II. It has been thrilling to see poem-talk spill out onto the Holyoke sidewalks!

“The Care Center’s relationship with The Poetry Center at Smith College is a sacred thing. When we study and receive visits from poets in the Smith reading series, the result is poetry in the classroom that sings with life’s heartaches, cultural pride and personal triumph. It is a hunger finally fed by the generosity of the Poetry Center and the poets who value the work we do here and agree to come – and by doing so become a vital part of it. The Care Center and The Poetry Center join in a common goal: to uplift the lives of these young mothers through poetry. We believe their lives mean something and their stories must be heard. Our relationship is magical and life-affirming.”

– Kimberley Ann Rogers, Poetry/Creative Writing
Educator, The Care Center

“Having poets from the Poetry Center’s reading series visit our students makes poetry leap off the page and come to life for young women who have had little access to literature. The connections, the inspiration, and the newfound hunger for poetry have been both life-affirming and life-enhancing. “

– Tzivia Gover, Former poetry teacher, The Care Center

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