• Rainy ravine at Joaquin Miller Park

Announcing our new Writer-in-Residence Program at Joaquin Miller Park

October 9th: Cascade Flows,
Picnic & Poet Laureate. Join us!

Kristen Caven at Joaquin Miller Park
seeking inspiration at Joaquin Miller Park

The history of the California Writers Club and Joaquin Miller Park are deeply intertwined, as the Club was formed by civic-minded literary figures who would gather on the land when it belonged to poet Joaquin Miller, who called it “The Hights” (his spelling). CWC, which formed in Oakland in 1909 and was incorporated in 1913, was instrumental in the city’s purchase of Miller’s land to create the spectacular city park. It now hosts many thousands of visitors per year to hike, picnic, exercise dogs, ride horses and bikes, and attend plays at Woodminister Amphitheater, a tradition for over 50 years. 

In the 1930s, the CWC helped bring the WPA to Oakland to build various projects, including the Woodminster Theatre and the Cascade, which descends from behind the stage down several stories into the reflecting pool by the road. They planted the “Writers Memorial Grove” to commemorate California Writers who’d met on the lands, including Robert Louis Stevenson, John Steinbeck, and founding members George Sterling and Ina Coolbrith.

In 2006, Friends of Joaquin Miller Park was formed, a coalition of park stakeholders. The California Writers Club is an anchor member of this thriving organization, which watches over the park.

Kristen Caven at the park
Kristen Caven speaks at the Fire Circle

Our First Writer in Residence, Kristen Caven, Will Introduce Children to Joaquin Miller with her Sing-Along Earworm

Our first Writer in Residence is Kristen Baumgardner Caven, who is known in Oakland for her cartoon history of the 1990 student strike at Mills College, her play for last year’s Virtual Oaktoberfest, The Dirndl Diaspora, and her work in public schools as a parent and co-author of The Bullying Antidote. Caven is the former president of the Oakland Tech PTSA and CWC Berkeley, and won the Jack London Award for service in 2017. In its inaugural years, Caven will set up the residency, during which she will work weekly in the park. She will also invite other writers to join her as she pilots this new program at events and monthly writer’s retreats. You can follow Kristen’s blog about her year in the park at Walkin’ With Joaquin.

New to CWC?

The CWC is a state-wide professional writers association that has grown from its roots here in Oakland to over twenty branches and nearly 2,000 members. Each branch hosts a monthly speaker series and provides networking and writing groups for its members.

Learn More or Join

During her residency, Caven will invite children and their adults to contribute illustrations to her forthcoming book based on her sing-along song, Joaquin Miller Went Walkin’.

California Writers Week is 3rd Week October

Intending to start a new tradition to honor the writers who once swarmed up the hill to hang out with Miller, Caven will be hosting an annual picnic called “A Blanket and a Basket of Chow.” The first event, following a ribbon-cutting ceremony with councilmember Sheng Thao, celebrating the restoration of the park’s beautiful, historic Cascade, will be on October 9, 2021. “From Ina to Ayodele,” a presentation of CWC writers reading words of our historical members, will follow, honoring Oakland’s first poet laureate, Dr. Adoyele “Wordslanger” Nzinga. Learn more here!

Join, volunteer, or donate to Friends of Joaquin Miller Park

Save the date for this free event, and watch for more news!

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