“I have been a teacher for 15 years and I don’t think I’m overstating the case when I say that teaching poetry to children this year was one of the most powerful experiences of my career. Through poetry, children are more readily able to put their expressiveness and personalities directly into their writing." Ms. Louisa Castrodale , Teacher of the Year, Cielo Vista Elementary School.” - Ms. Louisa Castrodale, Visual & Performing Arts Director

Palm Springs Unified School District

“..it is quite an honor for students to have their work hanging in the ‘Poet Tree’. Our experience with the project has been a positive and rewarding one.” Ms. Lynda Lake, Principal of the Year, Cielo Vista Elementary School” - Ms. Lynda Lake, Principal

— Palm Springs Unified School District

On March 10, 2008 I went to Rancho Mirage Elementary School to set up their "Poet Tree". Each time I set up a "Poet Tree" there is an experience that confirms my belief in the Mission Statement: There is a certain passion and desire to express ones self in the experience of poetry, music, theater, and art. Providing children of all ages with the opportunity and awareness to express themselves in a positive creative form and give them strength to say no to destructive forms of communication is the goal of Steve Petersen Productions, Inc. and the “Poet Tree”. With the objective to inspire each child to share the song in their heart. After hanging the driftwood log, the wind chimes, and the bird cage, I started looking for the place to dig a hole for the "Poet Tree Mailbox" post. Originally the mailbox was going to be in the lawn area across from the "Poet Tree", but I was thinking of a better place. There was a spot inside of the planter where the flowers, peach tree, and other plants were growing that seemed like the right location to plant the mailbox. I dug my hand into the sandy soil to see how hard the ground was and as the soil fell from my hand a glass heart lay upon my fingers. The photo is in the photo section under RMES Poet Tree Heart pictures. I love every moment. Steve” - Steve Petersen

— Rancho Mirage Elementary School

Steve Petersen is loving every moment Steve Petersen, 56, renaissance man who has become a writer, actor, and singer-guitarist relaxes at his home in Palm Springs. MUSIC AND MORE What: Steve Petersen signing copies of his novel "Healer," and playing music from his roots-oriented CD "I Just Want to Be In Love" Where: Borders Books and Music in The River, corner of Bob Hope Drive and Highway 111, Rancho Mirage When: 8-10 p.m. today Admission: Free Information: 779-1314 UPCOMING LOCAL GIGS Monday: A special musical performance for the Veterans for Peace, noon, La Casita restaurant, 411 E. Palm Canyon, Palm Springs. 320-8993 March 17: Return engagement to Borders Books and Music, Rancho Mirage, 8-10 p.m. April 1: Kicking off National Poetry Month at the Palm Springs Library with his creation of the 2006 Poet Tree, an endeavor Petersen started at the old La Palapas in Palm Springs in 1994. He'll place wind chimes and oak-framed poems in a tree in front of the library, and install a Poet Tree Mailbox, in which visitors may deposit their own poems for the library to utilize. Bruce Fessier The Desert Sun February 17, 2006 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- After three years in show biz, things are beginning to break for Steve Petersen of Palm Springs. He made his professional debut as a roots-oriented singer-songwriter opening for Eric Burdon and the Animals on New Year's Eve 2002. He released a CD, "I Just Want to Be In Love," featuring the patriotic single "These Colors Don't Run," and finished second at the recent Inland Music Awards as best male vocalist. He's acted in plays, "The West Wing" and a Papa Roach video. And he's written a novel, titled "Healer," that is selling at major book stores. He'll sign copies of the book today at Borders in Rancho Mirage. But Petersen is a 56-year-old ex-construction worker and poet. He grew up near Long Beach wanting to be a veterinarian, but said, "Events, family and listening to the wrong voice put me in construction." The Desert Sun talked to him recently by phone, e-mail and at a karaoke contest to hear how he got back into the arts. QUESTION: Did you realize you had artistic gifts as a child? ANSWER: Mom wanted me to be the next Jackie Cooper - tap dance at 4, accordion at 5. My only appearance on TV was the Engineer Bill Show at 6. I played Red Light Green Light and lost. Q: Why did you go into construction? A: My father-in-law was a contractor and he needed me in his business. I had been around construction my whole life in one way or another, so it seemed like the right thing to do. Q: How did you transition from construction worker to artist? A: How it all took place, in a matter of days between Dec. 22, 2002, and Jan. 2, 2003, is too emotional to share at this juncture. I can tell you the message, the events and the response to those events made it clear this is the path I am to walk. My old life taken, my new life given and I haven't looked back. Q: How did you react to 9/11? Did you just wake up and write "These Colors Don't Run" or did you try to find something to say about 9/11? A: I was in Ixtapa, Mexico, with my dad on 9/11/01. We were told we would be grounded until further notice. Early that coming Saturday we were told that a plane would be waiting for us in Mexico City. We were taken back to LAX by a courageous crew from United Airlines and landed in a closed airport. One immigration officer checked us in. Our (bags were) the only ones on the carousel. It was 9/14/2001. I was glued to the news for the next three days and the song came to me all at once. Q: You credit the start of your career to a "magical experience" in Kauai. Can you tell us about it? A: It was 9/08/2002 and Dad and I had gone to Kauai for a vacation. I'd seen a special story about a man from New Jersey that had come to the island of Kauai looking for the perfect wood to make violins. I sought him out and he invited me to his home. He said, "You'll think you are driving into Jurassic Park." It was just like that, thick green jungle, water falls, ponds. In his shop, built on stilts above the canyon floor, hung a new 12-string Koa guitar. It had been made for a famous musician, but circumstances made the maker decide not to let him have it. It was hanging there awaiting the arrival of Roland Cazimero, so he could play it at a 9/11 tribute at the Kauai Convention Center that week. My dad and I were invited to attend the concert. When Roland was finished playing the guitar he raised it over his head, blessed it, and it was gifted to me. My dad, my No. 1 fan, had a hand in that event as well as the magnificent spirits of the islands. Q: So how did you get your first gig, the Coach House on New Year's Eve? A: Someone had heard my demo and liked the song "Unknown Blonde." I was asked to open for Eric Burdon on New Years Eve 2002. I don't think the agent knew it would be my first performance. I only knew the 12 songs I'd written and when the spotlight went on and my name was spoken, I blacked out - not fall-on-the-floor blackout but I didn't remember anything for the next hour. I've played at the Coach House numerous times and doors seem to open at the most opportune moments. I consider them gifts. Q: How did you go from acting in a local production of "Batboy" to a part in "West Wing" and a Papa Roach video? You must have had a hell of an agent. A: (Laughing). I'm still my own agent. Acting started with "Batboy, the Musical." I was waiting in a lobby for Yve Evans, now a friend and mentor, in November 2003. Yve was auditioning for "Batboy," being directed by Justin Blake. I was told I was next to audition and I said I was just waiting. Howard Glenn-Rawley asked me what I did for a living. I said, "Sing" and he said, "It's a musical." I sang "King of the Road" by Roger Miller. Two hours, some dance moves and a few lines later, I was cast as the Sheriff. "West Wing" was another right-place-right-time. Q: What inspired your first novel, "The Healer"? Just something to do in your spare time? A: The story came to me in a dream that lasted night after night for three weeks. I've always wanted to be a writer. "Healer" is another gift. Q: What are your goals? Would you rather be Bruce Springsteen, Harrison Ford or Sidney Sheldon? A: How about the stage name, "Harrison Sheldon Springsteen"? My goal is to move up to the next level. One of my secrets is to always say yes when someone asks me to be part of whatever entertainment project. I love every moment of every day. Those are also gifts.” - Bruce Fessier

The Desert Sun