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Sunday, March 3, 2024

California Poet Laureate Lee Herrick reads at Davis event

The poetry reading was part of the recurring bimonthly poetry nights held at the John Natsoulas Gallery 

 

BY EMMA CONDIT — city@theaggie.org

 

On Nov. 3, California Poet Laureate Lee Herrick attended Davis’ bimonthly poetry night. This was the most recent of the poetry nights hosted by Dr. Andy Jones at the downtown John Natsoulas Gallery. This event lasted about two hours and had UC Davis and Davis Senior High School students, poets and other members of the community in attendance.

The evening began with a performance by Davis flutist, Dr. Rachel Taylor Geier. Then, Herrick began his poetry reading — his poems consisted of new and old works, and the topics ranged from delicious foods, adoption, crosswords and his idea of California.

“In my California, paperbacks are free and farmers markets are 24 hours and always packed,” Herrick said, reading from his poem “My California.” “The trees and water have no nails in them, the priests eat well, the homeless eat well.”

The California Poet Laureate is a two-year, governor-appointed position created in 2001 by Gov. Gray Davis. The goal is to share the art of poetry across the state of California and inspire emerging artists, according to the California Arts Council website. Herrick previously served as the Poet Laureate of Fresno and was appointed to his current position by Gov. Gavin Newsom in Nov. 2022. Herrick described his feelings about the position.

“It’s an incredible honor and humbling,” Herrick said. “It is an opportunity to meet poets throughout the state. […] It’s an opportunity to share with new audiences.”

After Herrick’s reading, the microphone was opened to the audience where Davis poets could share their works. One of the participants was the former Davis Poet Laureate Allegra Silberstein who shared a poem about grief.

“We’re drawn to the moon,” Silberstein said as she recited her poem. “We’re old in our sweet ruin, and that is of no concern for the parting time is coming soon.”

The Davis Poet Laureate is an honorary 2-year position created in 2009 by the Davis City Council. This role promotes the celebration of poetry through the city of Davis and Yolo County. Silberstein served in this position from 2010-2014.

Dr. Jones, the event’s host and a UC Davis professor, spoke of poetry night as a whole.  Jones said this event allows people to meet community members who they would otherwise not meet and be inspired to write.

“Events like this are important because they bring people together to appreciate the arts,” Jones said. “Poetry night is an oasis of creativity and unexpected connections.”

Each Davis poetry night is held on Thursday and begins at 7 p.m. The event is free and open to the public, and you can find more information here. Herrick encouraged people from Davis to write and engage with these events.

“Read as widely and as deeply as you can,” Herrick said to emerging poets. “Exploration and wonder and curiosity are important. Have faith in yourself and be open to discovery.”

 

Written By: Emma Condit  — city@theaggie.org

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