Carmen Giménez Smith is the new headliner for the annual literary festival, which features more than 150 writers
Back for its third year, LitHop 2018 boasts more writers than ever. Fresno’s annual literary festival unfolds Saturday, May 21, with readings throughout the afternoon at various locations in the Tower District, followed by a keynote event at Fresno City College. Everything is free.
The 45-minute readings kick off at 1 p.m. and continue hourly through 6 p.m. Poetry and prose are grouped together by theme, with a little something for everyone. (There’s even a session on “Cat Poems.”) Much like the Rogue Festival, with its abbreviated performance slots and multiple venues, LitHop conveys an overwhelming sense of literary abundance. So many words to appreciate!
The festival’s executive director, Juan Luis Guzmán, phrases it well: “The interest and appreciation people have for LitHop is a testament to the refuge of the written word. Attending the event is much like pressing ‘pause’ on the white noise of the day and taking shelter in poetry and prose.”
The festival had to regroup this past week because of the national outrage du’jour that we’ve all heard too much about. (Eight stories plus an editorial and op-ed, Fresno Bee? Really?) Carmen Giménez Smith, a finalist for the 2013 National Book Critics Circle award in poetry and the author of a memoir and six poetry collections, is the headline reader. She replaces Randa Jarrar.
Noble, a prominent digital-age scholar and proud Fresno State alumna, will talk about her new book on Friday, April 20
Google hadn’t even been born — much less conquered the world — when Safiya Umoja Noble was a student at Fresno State in the late 1980s and early ‘90s protesting against apartheid, arguing for social justice and pushing for racial and gender equality on campus. When she wanted to “search” for something, she did it the old-fashioned way, in the library: She thumbed through yellowed card catalogs, hunted through ghostly microfilm and perused voluminous abstracts.
So much has changed today, of course. Google is one of the most powerful companies on the planet, impacting our lives in a significant manner. And Noble has become an integral part of the digital age herself — in an academic watchdog role. Now a professor at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, she’s been studying Google and other Silicon Valley behemoths, all the while arguing for accountability.
My biggest concern is that the incident will overshadow the joy of LitHop and all the hard work put into it. I don’t want that to happen.
Here’s the official statement from LitHop and Fresno City College:
Fresno City College and the LitHop 2018 organizers wish to send condolences to the Bush family as we join the rest of our country in mourning the loss of our former First Lady, Barbara Bush.
The headline speaker for LitHop 2018, Randa Jarrar, has informed the LitHop organizers that she will not be a participant in this weekend’s events, which included her appearance at Fresno City College Saturday evening. Fresno City College and LitHop 2018 support her decision to withdraw.
While we respect the right to free speech, even objectionable speech, Jarrar’s statements are her own and do not reflect the values of LitHop or Fresno City College. We acknowledge the severity of her statements and take very seriously the concerns expressed throughout the community. The safety of each individual, including Jarrar’s, and all members of the LitHop and Fresno City College community is our paramount concern. We do not support violence or threats on social media or elsewhere; rather, we value civil discourse and look forward to the necessary healing ahead.
LitHop 2018 events will continue as scheduled with a different headline reader to be announced soon.
Meanwhile, there are many vigorous discussions taking place today on Facebook and other platforms. Some people are schooling others in 1st Amendment protections (sometimes mistakenly). Others are blasting Fresno State for not immediately firing Jarrar. She’s being called some pretty nasty names. Others are countering with anti-Bushisms. Tempers are high. And I get it.
I offer my picks for the best of the year in theater, classical music, dance, opera and visual arts
For more than 15 years, I’ve written a year-end piece I refer to simply as my “Top 20.” The full title, I guess, would be “Donald’s Top 20 Cultural Events of the Year in the Central San Joaquin Valley.” Or, because there’s only one of me and far more offerings each year than I could ever attend (even if I went out almost every night), the most realistic way to describe this yearly endeavor would be “Donald’s Top 20 List Out Of All the Stuff He Manages To Get To.”
“Cultural” is a pretty broad term, and I have to narrow that down a bit, too: In this case think of it as shorthand for “theater-classical-music-opera-dance-poetry-visual-arts.” As in years past, I declare up front that I cover more theater events than anything else because they’re the most likely to be repeat performances, meaning that my reviews can be useful to readers trying to decide whether to go to a future show.
I’ve also fiddled a little this year with the structure of this list: Rather than a hodgepodge of 20 events, I’m grouping my shout-outs by three categories: theater (with 10 entries); and music/dance and visual arts (with five each).
Nikiko Masumoto and Brynn Saito open an innovative theater piece about Japanese-American internment camps in World War II
Nikiko Masumoto and Brynn Saito are yonsei, or fourth generation Japanese Americans. They’ve often talked about the reality that theirs will likely to be the last generation to know family members who lived and survived through the American internment camps of World War II.
In “Hold This Stone,” an innovative theater piece scheduled for just two performances this weekend (it opens Thursday, Nov. 9, at the Fresno Soap Co.), the two friends and artists collaborate to explore the ramifications of memory — and more. I caught up with Masumoto to talk about the show (which is sponsored by CURTAIN 5 TheatreGROUP) and the Yonsei Memory Project, which she and Saito founded.
Q: When you were growing up, how much did you know about the incarceration of Japanese-Americans during World War II? How old were you before you got the complete story?
In his debut book of poetry, Fresno City College alum uses boxing as a literary device
Boxing is in Joseph Rios’ blood. So is poetry.
Which makes the location for the launch party celebrating “Shadowboxing: Poems and Impersonations,” his debut poetry book, rather appropriate.
Rios will give a reading 7-9 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 19, at Heartbeat Boxing, 155 Van Ness Ave., Fresno.
“It will be my first time reading from a boxing ring,” he says.
The Los Angeles resident grew up in the Fresno area and has strong ties to his hometown. The book uses an autobiographical-style central character named Josefo, a Chicano adolescent working and becoming a poet in the farm territories of Central California. In a daring stylistic move, Rios borrows the poetic language found in boxing lore and in the “Rocky” films.
Here’s a chance to spend part of a day with a noted illustrator, author, progressive educator, activist and publisher. Maya Christina Gonzalez is the second winner of the artist-in-residence fellowship prize given by the Arne Nixon Center for the Study of Children’s Literature at Fresno State. As part of her week-long residency at the university, Gonzalez is offering a workshop using self-portraiture titled “Voice is a Revolution: Personal Healing to Change the Larger Narrative.” It is free and open to the public.
The workshop is 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Friday, Sept. 29, in Room 140 of the Kremen Education Building. Lunch is provided. A description:
Participants are asked to bring a photo of themselves. This begins the journey. Using exercises from her “Claiming Face” curriculum, Gonzalez leads people through beautiful portraits to personal stories and finally toward larger healing narratives as the day’s workshop progresses. No creative experience or proclivity necessary, only the call to attend and claim your voice.