poetry

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

For the second time in five years, a Fresno poet has received the nation’s highest honor for his field. Former Fresno State professor Juan Felipe Herrera is the new Poet Laureate of the United States. Herrera grew up in the San Joaquin Valley and was influenced by both the beat poets and the Chicano movement of the 1960’s. He joins the late Philip Levine as the only Fresno residents to hold the national honor.  

In this interview Valley Public Radio's Ezra David Romero chats with Herrera about his life, poetry and future. 

Valley Public Radio / Ezra David Romero

This week on Valley Edition Mark Keppler, the executive director of the Maddy Institute, talks about the state of trails in the region. Also on the program Daniel Swain, with Stanford's Woods Institute for the Environment, talks about a new study examining the link between drought and global warming released last week.

Fresno State News

U.S. Poet Laureate and Pulitzer Prize winner Philip Levine died on Saturday at his home in Fresno. He was age 87. The former Fresno State professor was known as the poet of the working class, and drew inspiration from his time working in the auto industry in his native Detroit and from the San Joaquin Valley, which he called home for nearly 60 years.

Levine took pride in bringing stories of physical labor in America to the world of poetry. Poet Peter Everwine was a close friend and colleague.

Benjamin Boone

Fresno jazz artist, educator and composer Benjamin Boone has embarked on a fascinating new musical journey: mixing his music with the poems of former Poet Laureate of the United States and Pulitzer Prize winner Philip Levine. 

Levine, who is a longtime Fresno resident is among the nation's most revered poets. He's also a big jazz fan, dating back to his youth in Detroit. In fact, many of his poems reference jazz, including iconic stars like Clifford Brown and John Coltrane. 

In Visalia, Pizza and Poetry Mix at Howie & Son's

Aug 23, 2013
Howie & Son's

If you want to hear poetry on a Friday night in the San Joaquin Valley, stop by Howie & Son’s Pizza Parlor in Visalia.

You’ll find us in the back room, by the video game machines.

This isn’t your standard poetry reading. It’s poetry slam, the competitive art of performance poetry. We write our own verse and then deliver it, forcefully and in our own distinctive style.

When poet James Tyner was a child, he faced an uncertain future, including time spent homeless, and living in tough, gang-ridden neighborhoods in Southern California. He says two things helped "save" him: a love of literature and the city of Fresno.

Last week the Library of Congress named Fresno poet Philip Levine the nation’s 18th Poet Laureate. A native of Detroit, Levine moved to Fresno in the 1950’s to teach English at Fresno State, where he founded the university’s creative writing program, and helped foster the San Joaquin Valley’s rich poetry community. In 1991 his collection "What Work Is" won the National Book Award, and in 1995, his book "The Simple Truth" was the recipient of the Pulitzer Prize.

This week on Valley Edition we talk about the shortage of physicians in the rural communities of the Central Valley. We also look at how charter schools are working to provide innovation in education in the valley. We also have an in-depth interview with the newly named Poet Laureate of the United States, Fresno's Philip Levine.

America has a new poet laureate today, as the Library of Congress names Philip Levine in the one-year position. He will succeed W.S. Merwin in the post. Born in Detroit in 1928, Levine has used his poetry to examine blue-collar life, often embroidering everyday events with a sense of myth.