Fresno’s Literary Reputation Gets Polished Again With New State Poet Laureate – GV Wire


Governor Gavin Newsom named a Fresno resident Lee Herrick as California Poet Laureate, the first Asian American to hold the role.

“I am deeply honoured, touched and thrilled to be named California Poet Laureate,” Herrick said in a statement released Friday, November 18.

“As a teacher, poet and father, Lee writes movingly about his identity as a Californian and encourages others to reflect on what the state means to them,” Newsom said. “Lee’s dedication to highlighting the diverse experiences of Californians and making them so accessible through his poetry, makes him a perfect candidate for Poet Laureate.

“I look forward to his work inspiring communities and individuals across the state through the power of the written word.”

Fresno’s reputation for world-class poetry

In 2015, Juan Felipe Herrera, a former Fresno State professor of Fowler, became the first Latino to win the nation’s highest poetry honor as America’s 21st Poet Laureate.

Herrera had just completed a two-year term as California Poet Laureate in 2014.

Another Fresno resident, the late Philip Levine, was the 18th American Poet Laureate in 2011-2012.

About Lee Herrick

Herrick, 52, was born in South Korea and adopted at 10 months old by parents in Northern California. He teaches at Fresno City College and in the MFA program at the University of Nevada, Reno at Lake Tahoe. He has a wife and a daughter.

Herrick is the author of three books of poetry and has published poetry in literary journals, anthologies and textbooks. His poetry collections are scar and flower; Gardening Secrets of the Dead; and This several kilometers from desire. He is the co-founder of Fresno’s LitHop.

As the City of Fresno Poet Laureate from 2015-2017, he led efforts to bring communities together and inspire young people to express themselves through writing.

You can taste Herrick’s poetry at this link.

Governor Gavin Newsom and First Partner Siebel Newsom meet with California Poet Laureate Lee Herrick. in the old administration building of Fresno City College. (Governor Newsom’s office)

Duties of the Poet Laureate

The Poet Laureate is charged with championing poetry in classrooms and lecture halls across the state, inspiring an emerging generation of literary artists, and educating all Californians about the many poets and authors who have influenced our state through creative literary expression.

The former state poet laureate was Dana Gioia, former president of the National Endowment for the Arts, who served in the position from 2015 to 2018. The position had been vacant since Gioia’s departure.

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