Cal Lutheran presents poet laureate series

Free series includes reading by first Latino in US role

Juan Felipe Herrera will read from his new collection of poetry, “Every Day We Get More Illegal” during the discussion of his work from 7 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, March 10.

(THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. — Feb. 1, 2021) California Lutheran University is presenting a free three-part webinar series on U.S. poets laureate that will include a reading by one of the writers.

“Voices of the Nation: Celebrating the Work of U.S. Poets Laureate” will begin with a panel discussion on the writings of Tracy K. Smith from 7 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 17. The panelists will be Cal Lutheran communication professor Russell Stockard and adjunct English faculty member Sheena Mason. Jacqueline Lyons, associate professor of English and creative writing, is the series host.

Juan Felipe Herrera will read from his new collection of poetry, “Every Day We Get More Illegal,” during the discussion of his work from 7 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, March 10. The series will conclude with an examination of the writing of current U.S. poet laureate Joy Harjo from 7 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, April 14.

At each event, students in the Cal Lutheran honors English class Poetry and the National Consciousness will present selected poems by each laureate. A panel of poets and scholars from the Cal Lutheran faculty will provide cultural context on topics such as social justice, immigration and Indigenous land struggles.

“The series focuses on how poets and poetry examine America past and present, illuminating beauty, variety, power and prejudice," said Lyons.

Smith was the U.S. poet laureate from 2017 to 2019. She has written four books of poetry, earning the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry, Cave Canem prize for best first book by an African American poet, the James Laughlin Award and Essence Literary Award.

Herrera, the first Latino U.S. poet laureate, served from 2015 to 2017 after two years as California’s poet laureate. He received the National Book Critics Circle Award, PEN/Beyond Margins Award and Americas Award. He also has written several prose books for children and is a performance artist and activist.

Harjo is the first Native American U.S. poet laureate. She received the Ruth Lilly Prize from the Poetry Foundation for Lifetime Achievement, the 2015 Wallace Stevens Award from the Academy of American Poets and a Guggenheim Fellowship.

Since 1937, the librarian of Congress has appointed a U.S. poet laureate to present readings and lectures and engage in national community-oriented poetry projects.

This project was made possible with support from California Humanities, a nonprofit partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Visit www.calhum.org.

Registration is required. To register, go to CalLutheran.edu/voices. For more information, contact Lyons at jlyons@callutheran.edu.

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