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New Poet-Teacher Highlight: James Coats (Inland Empire)

James Coats is a California writer in love with social dancing, fine art, and awkward moments which he talks about through his imagistic narrative poetry. He is a multidisciplinary artist, author, and educator born in Los Angeles and raised in the Inland Empire. He received his BFA from Cal Poly Pomona and his MBA from Cal State San Bernardino. As a creative change agent, he believes the arts can inspire the youth and influence positive change in the world. His first poetry collection If I had Lived was published in 2018. He is the winner of the 2021 San Gabriel Poetry Slam. In 2021 he founded the organization Lift Our Voices Education which hosts an award-winning workshop monthly called Be The Change: Social Justice Writing Workshop. He became the Artist in Residence at The Garcia Center for the Arts in 2022.

He loves working with different age groups yet feels the elementary school students tend to be the most creative and open to exploring new ideas. In his experience, Middle school students are the most honest but need help expressing their feelings on the page. High schoolers always surprise him by being more mature than most give them credit for but sometimes less willing to search outside the parameters of the assignment. He feels that each group has their own challenges and strengths and does his best to help them unlock their artistic voice. That’s the most rewarding part for him.

His newest poetry collection Midnight & Mad Dreams is published by World Stage Press. You can find him attending poetry readings throughout California or follow his poetry via his Instagram @MrLovingWords.

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