American Book Award-winning authors coming to WordFest


~ By Jefferson Beavers, reprinted from

American Book Award-winning authors Tim Z. Hernandez and Sasha Pimentel will be joined by memoirist José Orduña for the WordFest 2017 event on Saturday, Jan. 28 at Fresno State.

The San Joaquin Literary Association hosts WordFest, which features a full day of talks about the craft of writing, followed by a reading and book signing. In its seventh year, WordFest is free and open to the public.

Hernandez’s latest book, the documentary novel “All They Will Call You,” was named a finalist for the Freedom Plow Award for innovation at the intersection of literature and activism.

The book follows Hernandez’s research on locating the unnamed victims of the 1948 plane wreck at Los Gatos Canyon, an incident made famous by a Woody Guthrie folk song. He previously won an American Book Award for his debut poetry collection, “Skin Tax,” and an International Latino Book Award for his documentary novel, “Mañana Means Heaven.” A Central Valley native, Hernandez teaches creative writing in the bilingual Master of Fine Arts program at the University of Texas, El Paso.

Pimentel’s forthcoming second book, the poetry collection “For Want of Water,” was selected by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Gregory Pardlo as winner of a 2016 National Poetry Series award. It will be published later this year.

She previously won an American Book Award for her debut poetry collection, “Insides She Swallowed,” and she was selected by poets Philip Levine, Mark Strand and Charles Wright as a finalist for the 2016 Rome Prize in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. A Fresno State alumna, Pimentel also teaches creative writing in the bilingual Master of Fine Arts program at the University of Texas, El Paso.

Orduña’s debut memoir is “The Weight of Shadows: A Memoir of Immigration and Displacement.” Born in Mexico and immigrated to Chicago when he was 2 years old, he was sworn in as a U.S. citizen in 2011 and is active in Latin American solidarity and social justice issues. Orduña teaches creative writing as the Joseph M. Russo Visiting Assistant Professor at the University of New Mexico.

The reading and book signing will be held at 7 p.m. in the Alice Peters Auditorium (Peters Business building, Room 191) inside the University Business Center. Parking is free in suggested lots P5 and P6.

The craft talks will be held inside the Peters Business Building, room 132. Pimentel will present at 10 a.m., Orduña at 1 p.m. and Hernandez at 3 p.m. Seating for the craft talks is limited. Interested students and community members can email to RSVP. Parking is free in suggested lots P5 and P6.

Founded in 2004, the San Joaquin Literary Association is a student organization at Fresno State that promotes literary events throughout the community and brings authors to Fresno for readings and workshops both on and off campus. Most members are graduate students in the Master of Fine Arts Program in Creative Writing.

For information about WordFest, contact Alysha Hoffa at or 559.278.1569.

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The College of Arts and Humanities provides a diverse student population with the communication skills, humanistic values and cultural awareness that form the foundation of scholarship. The college offers intellectual and artistic programs that engage students and faculty and the community in collaboration, dialog and discovery. These programs help preserve, illuminate and nourish the arts and humanities for the campus and for the wider community.

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