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Archive for March, 2012

CORBIN GOMEZ to represent California at Poetry Out Loud nationals in DC in April

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012


© Brian Baer/CAC

See and hear California’s Poetry Out Loud 2012 finalists at the California Channel (March 25 & 26) | Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

Photo credit: Brian Baer / California Arts Council 2012

Mohammad Shehata from Fresno County took second, and Jonathon Bermea from Tuolumne County was third in an extremely close competition

El Dorado County’s Corbin Gomez to represent California in Poetry Out Loud nationals

By Mary Beth Barber
© California Arts Council
March 26, 2012

Corbin Gomez, a senior at Oak Ridge in El Dorado County, took first place in the 2012 California state finals of Poetry Out Loud. Mohommad Shehata, a senior at Clovis West High School in Fresno County, was the first runner-up and will represent California in the national finals if Gomez is unable to attend. Jonathon Bermea, a senior at Sonora High School in Tuolumne County, was the second runner-up.

Three other students made it to the final round, including (in no particular order) Madeleine Centrella (Santa Barbara County), Austin Carr (Solano County), and Brittany Wiltz (Sacramento County). A list of all of the county winners and links to their high schools follows this release. The competition took place on the evening of Sunday, March 25, at the Sacramento Sheraton (Round 1), and the morning of Monday, March 26 (Rounds 2 and 3), on the state Senate floor. Video recordings of both days will be made available soon at

“We have a very strong contender and compelling young voice to represent California in the national Poetry Out Loud finals this spring in Corbin Gomez,” said Craig Watson, Director of the California Arts Council. “But all these students in the California state finals today are champions. This was my first Poetry Out Loud state finals since joining the Arts Council, and I was amazed at the level of talent in the room.”

More photos of the Poetry Out Loud top three winners are available for publication. Photo credit: Brian Baer/California Arts Council 2012.

Dana Gioia, the acclaimed poet who initiated Poetry Out Loud during his tenure as the former Chair of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), was on hand Sunday and Monday and spoke about the importance of the program and the arts in general. “The main reason I took (the job as NEA Chair) was that everywhere I went in the United States as a poet, someone in the audience would tell me how the arts education program had been taken out of their school,” he said. “It struck me as a disaster that in this country as we enter the 21st Century — a time when America is not going to compete on cheap labor but on ingenuity, on creativeness, on innovation – we have taken imagination out of the educational system and are not properly educating our kids.”

“The purpose of arts education is not to produce artists,” continued Gioia. “It is to produce complete human beings.”

This year marks the seventh time the California Arts Council has produced the annual competition — the largest of its kind in the nation, with over 40,000 students in approximately 33 California counties participating. The program encourages high school students to learn about poetry through memorization, performance, and competition. The California state finals is the culminating competition between county winners who have shown their merit in the classroom, school, district, and county (a pyramid competition structure similar to the spelling bee).

“Poetry Out Loud facilitates the ability of an ordinary person like me to experience something truly extraordinary through the art of poetry recitation,” said Gomez.

Photo: El Dorado County Arts Council

Gomez, as the California Poetry Out Loud champion, receives $200 from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). He will go on to compete in Washington, DC in April, and his school will receive $500 for books. Shehata, as the runner-up, receives $100 from the NEA, and $200 for books at his school.

The state’s Poetry Out Loud program is directed by the California Arts Council, and was initiated by the NEA and the Poetry Foundation. Local arts agencies and school districts conduct the program on the county level. The California Arts Council would like to thank the Target Corporation for sponsoring the state’s program and helping bring California Poetry Out Loud to as many California high school students as possible.

Additional thanks are extended to the California Channel and its staff, who allowed Monday’s portion of the competition to be broadcast and webcast, and who video recorded Sunday’s program for later viewing both on California Channel cable stations as well as webcast at The California Channel has had a long history with the California Poetry Out Loud program, and the organization won a Telly in 2007 for their hour-long program on that year’s state finals.

Also essential to the success of the program is the staff from the state Senate, including Senate TV who recorded Rounds 2 and 3 from the Senate floor and made the airing and live webcast by the California Channel possible.

Members of the press interested in California’s Poetry Out Loud program may contact Mary Beth Barber at 916-322-6588, More general information, including a list of poems the students chose to recite, can be found on the California Arts Council website ( under the Home/What’s New tab. A list of all the county winners follows this release.

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California Poetry Out Loud 2012
County Champions (in alphabetical order by County)

Alameda County
Michelle Yang, Oakland Military Institute

Contra Costa County
Denica Garcia, Salesian High School

El Dorado County
Corbin Gomez, Oak Ridge High School

Fresno County
Mohammad R. Shehata, Clovis West High School

Humboldt County
Terra Trujillo Ashbrook, North Coast Preparatory and Performing Arts Academy

Inyo County
Elizabeth Richards, Big Pine High School

Lake County
Sylvia Manners, Lower Lake High School

Los Angeles County
Calvin Lam, San Gabriel High School

Madera County
Michelle Linn, Glacier High School

Marin County
Douglas Pardella, Redwood High

Mendocino County
Elijah Ravitz-Campbell, Mendocino Community High School

Modoc County
Tahlia Guzman, Surprise Valley High School

Mono County
Ashley Garrison, Mammoth High School

Monterey County
Arwa Awan, Pacific Grove High School

Napa County
Emily Mourraille, New Technology High School

Nevada County
Jeremy Van Hecke, Ghidotti Early College High School

Orange County
Ellen Webre, Orange County High School of the Arts

Placer County
Helen Bansen, Truckee High School

Riverside County
N’kem Ehiemere, Nuview Bridge Early College High School

Sacramento County
Brittany Wiltz, Natomas Charter School

San Diego County
Oscar Sanchez Cid del Prado, Valley Center High School

San Francisco County
Abigail Schott-Rosenfield, Ruth Asawa San Francisco School of the Arts

San Luis Obispo County
Blythe Berg, Mission College Preparatory Catholic High School

Santa Barbara County
Madeleine Centrella, Dos Pueblos High School

Siskiyou County
Nicholas Cordell, Yreka High School

Solano County
Austin Carr, Benicia High School

Sonoma County
Brynna Thigpen, Maria Carrillo High School

Stanislaus County
Kathryn Harlan-Gran, James Enochs High School

Sutter County
Molly Grover, C.O.R.E. Camptonville Academy

Tuolumne County
Jonathon Bermea, Sonora High School

Ventura County
Jeremy Brooks, El Camino High School

Yolo County
Ella Rose Eldon, Esparto High School

Yuba County
Ocil Herrejón, Lindhurst High School

© 2012 California Arts Council


AL YOUNG IN CONCERT at Loyola Marymount University, L.A. ~ Thursday, 29 March, 6pm

Saturday, March 24th, 2012


6pm to 7:30pm
Thursday, March 29, 2012

Loyola Marymount University
McIntosh Center | Room 3999 |
University Hall
1 LMU Drive | Los Angeles, CA 90045


Photo: O.O. Gabugah Zoom

Poet Al Young sings and reads from new and classic works in musical collaboration with celebrated jazz musicians: saxophonist Vinny Golia, percussionist Don Littleton, and bassist Roberto Miranda.

Produced by John Menaghan
for the LMU Department of English

For additional information, contact Maria Jackson, Administrative Assistant | LMU Department of English | 310.338.3018



Saturday, March 24th, 2012

“Up Jumped Spring” | Freddie Hubbard (composer & trumpter) with Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers


Al Young

for Nana

What’s most fantastical almost always goes

unrecorded and unsorted. Take spring.

Take today. Take dancing dreamlike; coffee

your night, creameries your dream factories.

Take walking as a dream, the dearest, sincerest

means of conveyance: a dance. Take leave

of the notion that this nation’s or any other’s earth

can still be the same earth our ancestors walked.

Chemistry strains to connect our hemispheres.

The right and left sidelines our brain forms

in the rain this new world braves—acid jazz.

The timeless taste her tongue leaves in your mouth,

stirred with unmeasured sugars, greens the day

the way sweet sunlight oxygenates, ignites

all nights, all daytimes, and you—this jumps.

Sheer voltage leaps, but nothing keeps or stays.

Sequence your afternoon as dance. Drink spring.

Holding her hard against you, picture the screenplay.

Take time to remember to get her spells together.

Up jumps the goddess gratified, and up jumped spring.

– Al Young
Coastal Nights and Inland Afternoons: Poems 2001-2006


JUAN FELIPE HERRERA: California’s Newest Poet Laureate

Thursday, March 22nd, 2012


Juan Felipe Herrera Named California Poet Laureate by Governor Brown

UC Riverside Professor a renowned poet

Published: 03-22-2012 | California Arts Council

Photo © Randy Vaughn-Dotta

Juan Felipe Herrera

Governor Jerry Brown has appointed Juan Felipe Herrera as the California Poet Laureate. Herrera, 63, is the author of 28 books and currently serves as the Tomás Rivera Endowed Chair in the Department of Creative Writing at the University of California, Riverside. He was a 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 renowned Iowa Writer’s Workshop at the University of Iowa from 1988 to 1990. Herrera’s work has received wide critical acclaim, including numerous national and international awards. The appointment requires Senate confirmation.

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.


The California Arts Council manages the nomination process for the California Poet Laureate as established by law. After a call to the general public for nominations, applications are reviewed by an expert peer panel to narrow the number. Panel recommendations are sent to the Governor’s office for additional vetting. The Governor makes the final selection and names the California Poet Laureate, who must be confirmed by the Senate.


The California Arts Council and congratulate Mr. Herrera.



Tuesday, March 20th, 2012




Food Rules

Brian Kadner

Michael Pollan and Al Young at Hayes Street Grill | San Francisco, June 11, 2012

Al Young

Patricia Unterman, who co-directs the kitchen at San Francisco’s Hayes Street Grill, in conversation with author Michael Pollan — whose many books include the classic The Botany of Desire: A Plant’s-Eye View of the World, The Omnivore’s Dilemma, and In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto — in a benefit for public radio’s City Arts & Lectures | Nourse Auditorium, June 11, 2012



Photo: Al Young

SAN FRANCISCO PEACE AND HOPE: First Anniversary Celebration

June 6, 2012

Photographed by Philip Lewenthal

Painter and founding editor Elizabeth Hack reminds us why she responded to 9/11 by launching a literary journal devoted to poetry and visual art. In 2011 SF Peace and Hope went online.

Sacred Grounds Café poet-host Dan Brady with Kit Kennedy


[L-R] Elizabeth Hack, Marvin Hiemstra, Al Young, Bill Mercer

Ken Saffran


Niya C. Sisk


Al Young


   Philip Lewenthal

Marvin R. Hiemstra


Tanya Joyce


The Birthday Boy May 31, 2012

[L-R] Billy Young, Al Young, Franchot Young | Ocean Springs, Mississippi 1944

PC Mack

On his 73rd birthday, poet Al Young meditates on birth and rebirth, dawn and twilight, love and loss.

Nina Thorsen

Al Young recording “We June Bugs Jazz June, Too,” his poem of the month for The California Report, at KQED, San Francisco. | 25 May 2012

Vûof Nông Thôn

Al Young and Jack Foley at El Cerrito, California’s Nông Thôn Restaurant following a luncheon for the gods to which Jack treated Al in full pre-birthday splendor. | May 24, 2012

Mark Cohen

Al 24 hours after eye surgery. His longtime pal Kent Crockett, a John Donne devotee, writes:Yes, Al, the cataract surgery is a coming-of-age ritual unlike any other. I’m pleased to welcome you into the world of mature seers, the uninitiated don’t yet understand it, but we are a brotherhood, brought back from the brink. We are watchers of individual pine needles; oh how they dance about!”

Anna de León

[L-R] Jackie Tay of Singapore and Emma Qian of China, UC Berkeley MBA graduates (Class of 2012); departing neighbors of UC legacy graduate Al Young (Class of 1969), dining at Crepevine | May 2012

Marc Silber

Smile and say “Bacheeso“: Al Young and Persis Karim pose during their semi-annual teacher-student luncheon reunion | May 2012

Persis Karim

Photo: Kent Crockett

© Gabriel Reyes

Poet-friends Bill Hickok, Gloria Vando, and Al Young | Marina Del Rey, CA; March 30, 2012

© Gloria Vando

Al Young in performance with saxophonist and multi-instrumentalist Vinny Golia at Loyola Marymount University | Los Angeles; March 29, 2012

© Gloria Vando

Poet and professor John Menaghan — who directs the Irish Studies Program and produced the March 29th poetry & jazz concert at Loyola Marymount University — introduces Al Young and his three musical collaborators: Vinny Golia (reeds and woodwinds), Don Littleton (persussion), and Roberto Miranda (acoustic bass) | March 2012

(upper photo) John Menaghan | (lower photo) Al Young

Photo: Brian Baer

Juan Felipe Herrera, Al Young, Malissa Feruzzi Shriver, Kristin Margolis, Dennis Mangers, Susan Herron Sibbet, Brandon Cesmat: judges and accuracy scorers for California’s Poetry Out Loud recitation competition finalists | Sacramento, March 25 and 26, 2012

Brian Baer

Juan Felipe Herrera, California’s newest poet laureate, and Al Young (former California poet laureate) take a break from judging the Golden State’s 2012 Poetry Out Loud recitation finalists.

Photos: PC Mack
Photo: Eric Murphy

(L-R) Al Young, Kim McMillon, Jeanne Powell, Kaylah Marin at doorway to Oakland’s Joyce Gordon Gallery

© Eric Murphy

(L-R) Ayodele Nzinga, Chokwadi, Kim McMillon, Al Young, Anna de León, Meg Day, Kim Shuck at Joyce Gordon Gallery | Oakland, CA

On Saturday, March 10th, 2012, Joyce Gordon Gallery invited the public to In Celebration of Our First Lady. This free afternoon of music and poetry, hosted by Kim McMillon, included poets and musicians: Anna de León, Chokwadi, Meg Day, Ayodele Nzinga, Kaylah Marin, Kim Shuck, and Al Young. From 1:30 pm – 4 pm, artists used poem and song to honor women and our First Lady, Michelle Obama.

© 2012 Gabriel Navar