It's not often that a nationally recognized poet comes to Crescent City and offers a pubic reading of his work. But on Friday, California Poet Laureate Al Young will be in town, meeting during the first part of the day with students and then meeting with the community at a book signing and a poetry reading in the library during the early evening.

That's a plus for Del Norte County in a number of ways. Another cultural event - whether it be an art exhibit or a string quartet concert - raises our quality of life. Exposing our children to such a literary figure enhances our education system. The contributions may be small in the overall scheme of things, but as any football coach will note, every single block and juke matters.

Young's visit is important on another level as well: He's here to promote a literary art that is often ridiculed. Many see poetry as arcane and irrelevant. Few such views are farther from the truth. Poetry surrounds us. Song lyrics - from a mother's lullaby to Top 40 tunes that we've all memorized - are poetry. The advertising jingles all of us know so well are poems. The greeting cards we send often contain verses. They may not be great poems, but their power through the words' rhythms and evocative imagery stick with us.

Just how powerful? More than 50 local students entered poems in The Daily Triplicate's and Building Improvement District's poetry contest these past few weeks. One of the contestants in Del Norte's Junior Miss Scholarship Program plans to read an original poem in the Saturday talent competition. And we bet you can recite the lyrics of your favorite song.

On Friday afternoon, stop by the library downtown for Young's book signing or catch his reading at 7 p.m. Local poet Ken Letco will join him for the reading. The events are hosted by The Daily Triplicate and made possible in part by the Del Norte Literary Coalition.