A community poem by our guests at the 2021 Bookeaters’ Bash

Thursday, March 25, we hosted our annual Bookeaters’ Bash (At-Home Edition) and throughout the night, we celebrated the joy, resilience, and power of our students and their incredible voices. The evening featured students from our Black Literary Achievement Club, the Dear Voter Project, and 826 Youth Leader Sofia Márquez-Gómez interviewing acclaimed author Zadie Smith. In the end, our community came together and raised more than $400,000 for our free writing, tutoring, and publishing programs!

In the “idea so crazy it just might work” (and it did!) category, throughout the evening we asked the audience to answer a few short writing prompts in the chat. And wow, did our audience deliver. Behind the scenes, a few secret editors created the fastest poem in the west, turning a collage of lines written by the audience into the community-authored poem you see here.

You can now watch the full Bookeaters’ Bash, which includes a reading of this poem by our wonderful co-founders, Nínive Calegari and Dave Eggers. Thank you to all who attended for your generosity, support for our students, and for going along with this crazy idea!

In a challenging year, these are the things that brought us joy:

Hearing a student’s voice when she felt brave enough to unmute to talk to me, her tutor.

Taco tuesday or pizza fridays

Dinner at home with the whole family

Birds in the backyard, blooming jasmine and scented candles

Kira’s cat, my pandemic puppy 

52 weeks of Shabbat

The wolf moon in January

Walks around my city with dear friends

Equity and specificity.

Black joy. 

The astounding resiliency of young people.

The students of 826 Valencia are: 

Brilliant. So powerful. Inspiring. Famous. Impactful. Poignant. Authentic voices. Empowered youth. Imagining new worlds.

Writing is all about connection

It opens your mind and expresses your inner emotions and thoughts.

Writing helps us make sense of ideas, feelings, the world

Writers are like secret special friends.


Finding your voice is life changing.

So be brave.

You are the only person who can tell your story. 

– Co-authored by the audience of the Bookeaters’ Bash, March 25 2021