Fresno LitHop returns with a full lineup of poetry readings in the Tower District

LitHop is back, and it’s as big and poetry-filled as ever.

If it seems to you like a long time since this popular literary event has been in the news, you’d be correct. After a solid three-year run from 2016 to 2018, organizers took a break in 2019 to catch a breath. (“The event grew beyond what the planning committee imagined and we wanted to figure out how LitHop could become sustainable for years to come,” says staff member Von Torres.) Then came the pandemic in 2020, of course.

Pictured above, clockwise from top left: Anthony Cody, I Adeficha, Von Torres and Megan Bohigian.

But all that down time gave organizers a chance to offer a reinvigorated LitHop. This year’s version, which features a series of staggered poetry readings at seven venues, runs from noon-7:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 16. I caught up with Torres for a rundown:

Q: This year’s format is similar to previous LitHops. For those who aren’t familiar, how does the event work? What kind of vibe can people expect?

A: At the top of every hour from 12 PM to 5 PM, we will be hosting 45 minute poetry readings across seven different venues in the Tower District. Each reading has four readers. We have a wide array of readers from middle schoolers to poet laureates. After each reading, you’ll get the chance to choose another reading to attend or you can even take a break before catching the next reading. The vibe will be energetic and exciting as this will be one of the first in-person readings many people have participated in since the start of the pandemic.


Q: You’re featuring 31 reading groups at seven different venues. That’s about the same number of poets involved as in preceding years. Are you surprised you were able to attract so many participants in what is still a pandemic year?

A: Yes, we were surprised about the number of groups that submitted proposals this year. I think this shows that the poetry and literary scene in Fresno is very much alive, even after an ongoing pandemic. Our literary community desires to come together again and also share their work.

Q: You have some new venues this time around. What are they?

A: This year, our new venues are Fresno Music Academy & Arts, Fresbrew, and Splash. We’re glad to be partnering with these businesses and we’re grateful to have them host our readers and audience in their space.

Q: Three prominent poets are Megan Bohigian, Anthony Cody and I Adeficha. Tell us a little about each one.

A: Megan Bohigian is Fresno’s current and fifth poet laureate and she’s published two poetry collections, “Sightlines” and “Vanishing Point.” In addition, she curates the Respite by the River series. Anthony Cody is a Fresno poet whose latest collection, “Borderland Apocrypha,” has been stacking up literary awards and recognition, including the 2021 American Book Award. I Adeficha is a Fresno native whose poetry collection, “Rummage,” debuted in 2017. They’ve been a Cave Canem, Callalo, and Lambda Literary fellow.

These three poets highlight the many avenues we can take to enter and participate in the literary world and the Fresno poetry scene. The depth of our literary possibilities continues to grow because of people like Megan, Anthony, and I who show us the way and along the way nourish the growing roots of poetry in and from Fresno.

Q: The We Are People You Know group will be a highlight. Who’s involved?

A: The readers from the “We Are People You Know” reading are Dr. Cassandra Little, Misty Franklin, Terry Myers, and Victoria Rocha. They’re a group of BIPOC poets who live in the Central Valley and work for the Fresno Black Chamber of Commerce. Some of the readers on the lineup are formerly incarcerated and it’ll be powerful to hear them share their poetry and stories during LitHop.

Q: You’re a poet, though you’re sitting this one out because you’re also in charge. Tell us about your poetry and teaching.

A: The past few years, my teaching career took the forefront of my writing; however, I am starting to get back into the practice of writing. Currently, I’m exploring relationships, and specifically friendships, and how they have changed and evolved during the pandemic, along with understanding and not understanding the impact of anti-Asian violence. I’m also meditating about skin and how someone like me who deals with eczema has had to navigate the way people see me or comment about the way my body looks. My hope and intention for the coming years is to get more of my work out there and to publish my first book of poetry.

For the past six years, I have worked at Clovis Community College in the English & Reading Department as a now tenured professor. Teaching and working at Clovis Community College brings me lots of professional joy as a former community college student myself. When I see my students, I see myself. Community college is an exciting and nervous time because you get to find out what education actually means to you and for many, and also in my case, community college offered me a second chance to figure out who I wanted to become. I do my best to teach culturally relevant books that students can connect with and find mirrors of themselves or their community. When a book can be a mirror, I’ve seen students ask deeper and better questions. It’s powerful to witness students’ growth through these questions as they develop their reading, writing, and literacy.

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Q: Some people are leery of poetry because it’s an unknown world for them. What advice or encouragement would you give to first-time LitHoppers?

A: Find reading events and descriptions that interest you and go to those. Bring a friend or family member if you can. It’s also okay to go to readings by yourself. Whether the reading has names you are or are not familiar with, you’ll never know when you’ll be surprised or inspired during a reading. Also, it’s okay if you get confused when listening to a poem. Hopefully though, when you’re at a LitHop reading and listening in, you’ll find a poet or poem that awakens something in you.

Q: Are there any pandemic restrictions in effect for LitHop?

A: Currently, there are no pandemic restrictions for LitHop. We’re being mindful of informing our LitHop readers and attendees that we are following local and venue safety guidance. We’re allowing the venues to enforce any rules they have in place. For example, Splash requires all readers and attendees to show proof of vaccination or proof of a negative COVID test from the past 72 hours. We’re also going to have hand sanitizer, sanitizing wipes, face masks, and microphone covers on hand for our readers and audience to access if needed.

Q: Anything else you’d like to say?

A: That’s all from me. Thank you for the chance to share about the return of LitHop and the different groups and individuals that will be participating. We look forward to seeing everyone!

Covering the arts online in the central San Joaquin Valley and beyond. Lover of theater, classical music, visual arts, the literary arts and all creative endeavors. Former Fresno Bee arts critic and columnist. Graduate of Columbia University and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Excited to be exploring the new world of arts journalism.

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