A totally Californian poet laureate
Wearing jeans, green sneakers, a hipster straw bowler and a Buddhist symbol around his neck, the new poet laureate of California opened his weekly poetry workshop at UC Riverside with stretching and breathing exercises.
“Let’s detox our cluttered academic brain. That’s what the poet does,” said Juan Felipe Herrera, 63. “People call it daydreaming, detoxing our minds and taking care of that clutter. It’s being able to let in call letters from the poetry universe.”
Herrera then launched into poems by Federico García Lorca and other 20th century masters and had students recite their own compositions for group critiques.
Preparing for the works of Raul R. Salinas, a pioneer in Chicano literature, he took the 16 young poets to a campus lawn, where they recreated the swaggering gait of a 1940s zoot suiter.
Herrera would like to make the entire state a democratic, virtual poetry workshop. He envisions a gigantic communal poem to be passed around the Internet over the next two years so writers at high schools, colleges and community centers can add their own lines.
It’s tentatively titled “The Most Incredible and Biggest Poem in the World on Unity.” Herrera describes it as a “nice, juicy, long poem, a multidimensional poem that talks about what we are all facing, from as many traditions and cultures and places.”
Read the full story at the Los Angeles TImes