It’s Lit…Hop with Gary Soto in the Auditorium


Photo by: Marco Rosas

LitHop attendees meet Gary Soto in the Gary Soto Literary Museum in OAB 139 on April 29, 2017.

Story By: Marco Rosas, Reporter

LitHop is an event celebrating the creative writers in the city of Fresno where local authors are invited to read to audiences. This year the headliner, author Gary Soto, read aloud for audience members in Fresno City College’s auditorium in the Old Administration Building on April 29.

Soto was born in Fresno and attended FCC before going to Fresno State and UC Irvine, according to Sandra Garcia, representative for Congressman Jim Costa.

Among those in attendance at Soto’s reading was former Fresno Poet Laureate Lee Herrick who is also the founder of LitHop. Herrick said he is happy to see people return to listen to local authors.

“He is one of the most inspirational, prolific, giving writers I know,” Herrick said about Soto before the reading started. “We are deeply honored to have him here.”

LitHop is in its second year. Herrick said he had been thinking and dreaming about it for more than 10 years.

“The inspiration for LitHop was the number of fantastic writers of all ages, backgrounds and genres that I thought could all come together,” Herrick said.

Garcia presented Herrick with an award honoring him for his contributions to Fresno and as the city’s poet laureate.

Garcia also presented Bryan Medina with an award honoring him as 2017 Fresno Poet Laureate.  Medina had done a reading for LitHop and was in attendance for Soto’s reading.

Soto read from a few of his collections including a short excerpt from his play “Nerdlandia” in which Soto portrayed an array of characters on stage.

Soto briefly answered questions on literature and spoke about his experience finding his voice or style as a writer.

Afterwards, Soto read a few more pieces before bidding the crowd goodnight and retreating to the Gary Soto Memorial Museum on campus.

Audience members could meet and greet Soto while looking at walls adorned with quotes and iconic imagery from the author.

With technology becoming more and more dominant in people’s everyday lives, events like LitHop represent signs of life in the literary community.

“It (LitHop) dispels the odd notion that poetry is boring, and it can actually be a lot of fun; it can be a comedy; it could be a weeper,” Soto said.

“People have to get outside the house, off their phones and actually go out and visit the world,” Soto added, urging people to attend future events.

While he is unsure if he will return to LitHop next year, Soto did not shoot down the idea, saying he will “pace himself.”