Lee Herrick

 

I had the pleasure of meeting Lee Herrick at a Literacy Fair recently – put together by the Friends of the Fresno County Library, and the Clovis Book Barn.

I had been wondering why the table I was sharing with Herrick was up front and center – until I realized he was our current Fresno Poet Laureate, having been awarded the title by Mayor Ashley Swearingen in 2015!

As is fun to do sometimes at these events when meeting fellow writers, we exchanged books, he receiving one of mine, The Treehouse Treasury, for his daughter – and me getting a copy of his most recent book printed in 2012, Gardening Secrets of the Dead.

Here, an excerpt:

Gathering

Here, tonight, as we gather
our stray and common
ideas, our blossoming flowers
in the shapes of wine glasses

an Asian father thinks of you in a beautiful gallery
and admires the texture of your black hair,
grateful to unite with friends whose laughter perfumes
the air like memories you store at home.

Tonight, we resemble
a beautiful painting,
don’t we?

We celebrate and assemble
from around the world,
around how good it feels to be free
to be the anger and or the grace,
to discover more of yourself
how you are the light, the smile,
the flower in the grand bouquet.

Herrick, currently a Professor of English at Fresno City College for the last twenty years, teaching English, writing and poetry – also teaches in the MFA Program at Sierra Nevada College. 

He was born in the late ’70s just south of Seoul in South Korea, and was raised by adoptive parents in the Bay Area, before moving to Fresno.

Herrick started actively writing and crafting his poems in ’97, and thus far has been  featured in many anthologies and literary journals. He also is the founding editor of In the Grove, and a guest editor of New Truths:  Writing in the 21st Century by  Korean Adoptees for Asian American Poetry and Writing.

His first book was published in 2007, titled, This Many Miles from Desire.

He loves meeting people, bridging the gaps between cultures, exploring the topic of adoption, and motivating others through readings and talks he gives throughout the year. One of those places he visits to give readings, for instance, are State Prisons.

His eyes lit up and his smile was joyous as he described the biggest joys in his life – his wife Lisa, and their daughter Suzshen.

He is also proud of having been the founder of ‘Lit Hop,’ a literary festival held in Fresno’s tower district – this year playing host all day on April 29th to about 140 writers who will be sharing their works through readings and displaying their books for sale.

Just the week prior to that, he will be a featured reader at The New Orleans Poetry Festival!

His books can be found locally at the Clovis Book Barn, and online at retailers such as  Amazon and Barnes & Noble, among others.

Visit his website for more info @ www.LEEHERRICK.com

Here’s one more from Gardening Secrets of the Dead:

Circle

for Jennifer and Sun Yung Shin

Once, I thought I had memory,
browned dry leaves in a pile,

Korean, full of smoke,
autobiography as division:

north of the Han River, south of it
the 63 Building, a gold rocket

all the red neon crucifixes lit
under Seoul’s hopeful twilight

the Imjing River’s heavy bloat,
the guardposts with handprints

of former soldiers like my translator
who helped me try to find my birth mother.

You write about paper and savagery:
all the dying and flowers to the left
all the dying and flowers to the right
all the children eating popsicles to the left
all the children eating popsicles to the right

Your shattering elegance
you graceful astronomy
you turn into doves,
you sword of fire through the snow
we will remember it all.