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The News Site of Fresno City College

The Rampage Online

The News Site of Fresno City College

The Rampage Online

Getting Lit in a Different Way: the Annual LitHop Literary Festival

Photo by: Anthony Corda
Audience members filling into seats at Tower Yoga: Lotus Room to watch Poet Laureates Lee Herrick and Juan Felipe Herrera on October 14, 2023.

The sixth annual LitHop event was held Saturday, Oct 14 in the Tower District. The literary festival ran from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. and featured readers from all over California.

Lee Herrick standing at the podium in front of an audience while he reads his poetry at LitHop on Oct 14, 2023. (Photo by: Anthony Corda)

Co-founded by California Poet Laureate and FCC professor, Lee Herrick, the event was supported by California Humanities, a non-profit partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities. CMAC was present to record the main event at Tower Yoga: Lotus Room. Other venues included the Alchemist Coffee Lab, Fresbrew and Hart’s Haven Used Bookstore among others. 

All of the events were free. Despite being scheduled to start at 5 p.m. the event started late.

Herrick started the event by reading four poems, one of which was written for and to a Kurdish prisoner. His last poem was a food-themed, funny, light-hearted abecedarian poem meaning it used all of the letters of the alphabet.  

The audience was enthusiastic.

Juan Luis Guzman, the vice chairman of the Selma Arts Council and former second director of LitHop from 2017-2019 introduced Juan Felipe Herrera, former California Poet Laureate from 2015 to 2017.

Herrera’s first poem, “It’s a Free Poem” called for audience participation during which everyone was encouraged to echo the heartfelt lines he read about the state of the world and of the universe.

That specific poem was written on a piece of cardboard.

After the reading, Herrera gave the poem away to the first person who could guess a number between 1 and thirty-five. What followed was a rapid fire of audience guesses being shouted out at random until he heard the correct number, and the audience member was given the poem.

“Holler” was the next poem that Herrera read. He said the piece was written in honor of Tyree Nichols was beaten for three minutes by Memphis police and eventually died from his injuries in January. The piece focused on police violence.

Juan Felipe Herrera standing at the podium in front of an audience while he reads his poetry at LitHop on Oct 14, 2023. (Photo by: Anthony Corda)

Herrera appeared emotional during the reading of the poem and the atmosphere in the room briefly felt like a memorial or a wake. As Herrera spoke the names of the victims, he once again asked for audience participation and the names were echoed by the audience.

Herrera’s last poem was called “Pronouns Me” which was a tribute to LGBTQIA+ youth. During this emotionally charged reading, Herrera once again encouraged audience participation. He was once again met with active participants.

Ora Perdia, an English major at Fresno State, said she heard about LitHop from school and got to see one of her professors read at Hart’s Haven Bookstore. 

“It was my favorite because it demonstrates why they’re doing this. It was my favorite because I’m learning from these people,” Perdia said. 

Samantha Martinez, also an English major at Fresno State said that the event benefits the community in the sense that it provides a creative outlet. 

An audience member stands at the doorway of Fresnobrew during a reading. The LitHop Fresbrew schedule is posted behind him on a sandwich board outside of the venue. October 14, 2023. (Photo by: Anthony Corda)

“We’ve run into a lot of classmates,” Martinez said. “It feels like a community. You bump into these people in class or around school, but now you’re getting a chance to hear their work.”

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About the Contributor
Anthony Corda
Anthony Corda, Reporter
Anthony Corda is 36 years old and currently enrolled in the Journalism for Transfer program at Fresno City College with the intent to transfer to Fresno State University in the spring. Originally born in Wichita Falls, Texas, Anthony has been a resident of Washington State as well as Alaska before settling in Fresno, California in 1997. Anthony currently works as a marketing analyst with a focus on mass communications and journalism. He also works as a documenter for The pursuit of knowledge, information and social justice have always been the cornerstone of his passions. Since 2016, he has come to realize the vitality of ethical news reporting and he hopes to somehow leave his mark in the world by way of his prose with the intention of building bridges instead driving wedges. Some of his interests include pop culture, the horror genre, music, film, books, as well as anything that is part of a synthwave aesthetic. He has recently taken up painting and collage making and loves the fighting game genre. Street Fighter VI is where he currently showcases his skills. He has been a casual, yet competitive fighting game player since his childhood. Other games he enjoys include the Fallout series as well as the Elder Scrolls series and Resident Evil. Some of his favorite films include the Halloween franchise, The Paranormal Activity franchise, The Exorcist, Grandma’s Boy, Mrs. Doubtfire, The 40-Year-Old Virgin and pretty much anything done by Judd Apatow and/or Seth Rogen.

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