It’s fair to say that U.S. poet laureate (and former California poet laureate) Juan Felipe Herrera embodies the American dream and is a man of the people.
He rose from a humble background – his parents were migrant farmworkers – to attend UCLA and Stanford University, finishing at the challenging University of Iowa Writers Workshop and emerging with a master’s degree in fine arts.
“I’m a political poet, a human poet, a poet who’s concerned with the plight of people who suffer,” he has said. “If words can be of assistance, then that’s what I’m going to use.”
The New York Times has called him a pioneer who has forged “a new hybrid art, part oral, part written, part English, part something else; an art grounded in ethnic identity, fueled by collective pride, yet irreducibly individual.”
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Herrera will be in Sacramento Nov. 12, where he will appear at 7:30 p.m. at the Crest Theater, 1013 K St.. Meet him at the 6 p.m. reception in the theater foyer. The event is sponsored by the Sacramento Poetry Center, in conjunction with the Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Commnission. Tickets are $15 at brownpapertickets.com.
Herrera has published numerous collections of award-winning poetry, including “Half of the World in Light” and “Border-Crosser With a Lamborghini Dream,” as well as short stories and novels for young adults. He was named U.S. poet laureate in 2015. The former university teacher is on the board of chancellors of the Academy of American Poets.
The object is history
“A History of Sacramento City College in 100 Objects” (with cover art by Gregory Kondos) helps mark the college’s centennial and gives fascinating and often humorous insights into its past (Sacramento City College, $35, 142 pages). Who better to explore the “material culture” of a “people and their things” than an archaeologist?
“For this project, I defined objects as anything that can be touched or seen,” said author William Doonan, chairman of the SCC department of anthropology. “I considered photographs, artifacts, news articles, paintings, statuary and architecture. I reached out to students, faculty, staff, administrators, alumni and emeriti professors (looking for) objects that helped tell our story.”
Thumbing through the handsome book, we found a 1922 course catalog, the 1930s “Rules for Freshmen” (“Wear a bright red tie”), a lion’s skeleton, a Louis Armstrong concert announcement from 1957 (prime seats $3), a Bell Iroquois UH-1 helicopter and a Boeing 727 jet (teaching tools), an interview with a female judge of the 1969 campus miniskirt contest and a photo of the winner (who got a free meal at the Zombie Hut), a platinum safe, and Patty Hearst’s fake student ID (as “Sue Hendricks,” 1975).
Doonan is a deft interviewer with an acute sense of fun, as displayed in his chat with a professor emeritus who is a former member of the on-campus Shack, a sedate men’s club for faculty (1960s-1981). Their question-answer exchange concerning nonexistent dancing girls in the club is LOL.
Proceeds from the sale of “100 Objects” will help fund SCC scholarships. Find it at Avid Reader at Tower, 1600 Broadway, Sacramento, 916-441-4400; the SCC bookstore, 3835 Freeport Blvd., Sacramento, 916-558-2351; and at www.scc.losrios.edu (click on the yellow “SCC At 100” box).
A page-by-page tour of Sacramento
How well do you know River City? As longtime publisher of Inside Publications, Cecily Hastings has an expert handle on what she calls our “most interesting places.” She compiled her “curated collection” of favorites in “Inside Sacramento: The Most Interesting Neighborhood Places in America’s Farm-to-Fork Capital” (Inside Publications, $35, 207 pages; look for updates to its content at www.insidesacbook.com).
“Sacramento doesn’t get the respect it deserves,” she writes in the introduction. “Even though it’s the state capital, it’s often overshadowed by its larger and louder regional neighbors.”
The guidebook is filled with informative text and excellent photos. It visits eight core Sacramento neighborhoods – including downtown, midtown, R Street and East Sacramento – and is restaurant-centric. For instance, the players include Biba, Waterboy, the Rind, Freeport Bakery, One Speed, Formoli’s Bistro and other familiar names.
But it also features lesser-known treasures such as East Sac Hardware, Downtown & Vine wine bar, Time Tested Books, Artists’ Collaborative Gallery, True recycled clothing boutique, the Plant Foundry artisanal nursery, and more.
The collection of 101 businesses is a partial reminder of why we live here. For visitors, it’s an introduction to why they should. For more on Hastings, look for Cathie Anderson’s “Inside Business” column in Tuesday’s Bee.
Find “Inside Sacramento” at Time Tested Books, 1114 21st St., 916-447-5696; Underground Books, 2814 35th St., 916-737-3333; and at some of the stores featured in the book, including Selland’s Market Cafe, 5340 H St., the Crocker Art Museum gift shop, 216 O St., and University Art, 2601 J St., 916-443-5721 – all in Sacramento.