This book was conceived as a portrait of the creative community that both nurtures and serves, and is nurtured and served by, the non-profit organization Street Poets Inc.. Born from a poetry workshop in a Los Angeles County probation camp for boys, Street Poets has evolved over the past 20 years into a multi-dimensional, highly collaborative arts education organization harnessing the healing power of poetry and music to save lives, create community and transform culture.

In that time, Street Poets’ outreach has extended from prison cells to public school classrooms, from inner-city projects to Indian reservations, from L.A. street corners to countries like Belize, Sweden, Northern Ireland, Finland, Kenya and South Africa.

Street Poets operates with the understanding that if we are to restore balance to ourselves and to the world, we need to be able to step through our fears to the gifts that too often lie dormant beside our deepest wounds. If we’re afraid to explore or even acknowledge these wounds, we condemn ourselves to a repetition of the same mistakes. We become like modern machinery, slaves to a system propelling us toward our own destruction.

Whether singing in a sweatlodge or rapping in a recording studio, our Street Poets embrace the truth that there is an indigenous soul that lives within each of us, that remembers what it feels like to exist in harmony with the earth, and that can see beyond the surface of things. We believe that there are ancient solutions to our most intractable modern problems buried in our bones. Street Poets’ ultimate mission is to liberate those solutions, that medicine, our gifts – so that we all can experience what it feels like to be free.

Christopher Henrikson,
Founder, Street Poets Inc.