The California State Poet Laureate is coming to the Contemporary Club in Redlands on Jan. 20, and he is seeking poems.
Juan Felipe Herrera is author of 28 books and currently serves as the Tomas Rivera Endowed Chair for the Department of Creative Writing at UC Riverside. He was appointed Poet Laureate for the state of California in March 2012.
When Herrera comes to Redlands he plans to discuss his signature Poet Laureate project, "The Most Incredible & Biggest Poem on Unity in the World," according to announcements from A.K. Smiley Public Library and the Inlandia Institute, the nonprofit literary center in Riverside.
Herrera will also be collecting contributions of poetry from the public, the key element of "The Most Incredible & Biggest Poem," library and institute officials said.
To assist his collection efforts, Herrera launched a Facebook page in September 2012 dedicated to compiling fragments of contributed poetry, officials said.
"The tagline reads, 'Put your Unity into Action - write a poem for unity - or a phrase or a line. All languages, bilingual too - to create One collective poem for all to see.' Along with contributions that have come through other channels, Herrera is at work creating what he hopes will be the largest community-based poetry project on the subject of unity that has ever been attempted," library and institute officials said.
Herrera's latest request is for contributions of poetry paying tribute to victims of the Dec. 14 shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. He started this recent effort with his poem, "Little Ones We Carry You," and dozens more poems have been contributed by others since its launch, officials said.
Herrera is a former professor and chair of Chicano and Latin American Studies at California State University, Fresno, from 1990 to 2004 and a teaching assistant fellow at the Iowa Writer's Workshop at the University of Iowa from 1988 to 1990. His work has received critical acclaim including national and international awards, library and institute officials said.
"The mission of the California Poet Laureate is to advocate for the art of poetry in classrooms and boardrooms across the state, to inspire an emerging generation of literary artists, and to educate all Californians about the many poets and authors who have influenced our great state through creative literary expression," officials said.
The Inlandia Institute publishes regional writing in print and electronic form, including books published in partnership with Heyday under the Inlandia imprint, the annual Inlandia creative writing anthology, Writing from Inlandia, and the online literary journal, Inlandia: A Literary Journey, according to the institute.
The institute also provides creative literacy programs for children, as well as creative writing workshops for teens and adults in Riverside, Idyllwild, Ontario and Palm Springs.
Anyone can contribute to the "The Most Incredible & Biggest Poem on Unity in the World," including people who attend the event in Redlands. Contributions can also be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or mailed to:
Juan Felipe Herrera
University of California, Riverside
900 University Ave.
Riverside, CA 92521
Tel: (951) 827-1012
The Redlands event is planned at 1 p.m. Jan. 20 at the Contemporary Club, 173 S. Eureka St., adjacent to A.K. Smiley Public Library.
Light refreshments will be served. For more information, call Cati Porter at (951) 218-4464 or the Smiley Library at (909) 798-7565.