This past spring I was extremely awestruck and happy to have earned a statewide award for my support of California Writers Club (CWC), an organization founded in 1909 by Jack London and a number of influential young writers of their time.
They enjoyed each others company, discussing writing style, marketing their works, and supporting other up-and-coming writers. They met in Oakland at a park now designated as Joaquin Miller Park.
As the history goes, a very young Jack London had an insatiable appetite for reading, as a young boy, adventuring, selling newspapers for a short time, and hunting and fishing as boys do. Yet, he made plenty of time for reading.
The local librarian Ina Coolbrith, saw a passion in him that she often allowed him to sign out many books over the weekends. Monday mornings he would be there at the door to return them — having read all of them— sometimes as many as a dozen.
With Ms. Coolbrith’s mentoring and support, Jack London began his early writing career. So it is easy to see why the Jack London Award is bestowed on one member of each of 22 branches of the CWC on alternate years. I’m receiving the Jack London Award from my peers of the High Desert branch.
Later on in California’s history, Ina Coolbrith became the official First California Librarian, distinguished for many years of service to the public. With her strong interests in the Bohemian Club and her influences in the cultural scene of San Francisco, she was appointed the first poet laureate of the state.