Spotlight: Remembering John Oliver Simon, Poet-Teacher, Alameda County​​

We were saddened to learn of John's passing on January 16, 2018. John was an extremely talented writer, translator and teacher who pursued all of his passions until the time of his death. He embodied the mission of CalPoets, wanting to enrich the lives of as many students as possible across the state. On the day before he died, he told his daughter, "I'm so happy." He had enjoyed his life thoroughly and was looking forward to marrying his fiancée Susie Kepner in the spring. His smile and unstoppable enthusiasm energized us all and we miss him.


"...As an educator, Simon devoted himself to teaching children to write poetry. He co-founded and taught at the People’s Community School in Berkeley, 1969-1973. He was a former president and board member of California Poets in the Schools (CalPoets) and served as the artistic director of Poetry Inside Out, a program of the Center for the Art of Translation. In 2013, he was named the River of Words Teacher of the Year by former U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Hass.

In addition to his daily writing practice, Simon was an avid backpacker, kayaker, gardener, and baseball fan.

John touched the lives of thousands with his teaching, friendship, and poems. Mexican poet Alberto Blanco wrote, “The poems of John Oliver Simon, like all true poems, trace a map, a psychography, which allows us to enter, not only into another life but into the voyage of that life, and not only into another culture, but into other cultures: into another point of view.”"


Read John's latest article, Lives of the Young Poets, published in Teachers and Writers Magazine on January 16, 2018.


John Oliver Simon - we thank you for your passionate pursuit of poetry and your dedication to our mission
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