Award-winning authors and internationally known spoken word performer coming to WordFest

Yazmin Monet Watkins, Steven Sanchez, and Li-young Lee

WordFest 2019 will feature craft talks and a performance from authors Steven Sanchez, Yazmin Monet Watkins and Li-young Lee on Saturday, Feb. 23.

9:30 a.m. – Steven Sanchez

Henry Madden Library (HML) 3212 – Craft talk

Steven Sanchez is the author of “Phantom Tongue” (Sundress Publications, 2018), selected by Mark Doty as the winner of Marsh Hawk Press’ Rochelle Ratner Memorial Award. He is also the author of two chapbooks: To My Body (Glass Poetry Press, 2016) and Photographs of Our Shadows (Agape Editions, 2017). A CantoMundo Fellow, Lambda Literary Fellow, and selected by Ruben Quesada as the winner of the inaugural García Lorca Poetry Prize, his poems have appeared or will appear in American Poetry Review, Poet Lore, Winter Tangerine, North American Review, RHINO, and elsewhere. He holds degrees in Philosophy and Creative Writing from California State University, Fresno where his graduate thesis won the Fresno State College of Arts & Humanities’ 2014 Outstanding Thesis Award. He currently serves as a poetry reader for The Rumpus.

11:15 a.m. – Yazmin Monet Watkins

Henry Madden Library (HML) 3212 – Craft talk

1 p.m. – Yazmin Monet Watkins

Henry Madden Library (HML) 3212 – Performance

Yazmin Monet Watkins, spoken word poet, actress and content creatorfrom Los Angeles, CA. A Posse scholar and a graduate of Dickinson College, Watkins’ work in higher education combines art and activism, providing critical artistic outlets for students to self advocate, heal, negotiate and navigate the space that is higher education. She has performed in Obama’s White House and opened for the likes of Angela Davis, Roxane Gay, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Amiri Baraka, Sonia Sanchez, Peggy Mcintosh, Victor Lewis and Nikki Giovanni. She is the author of “Love Without Limits: The Bi-Laws of Love” and has a forthcoming publication with Not A Cult press entitled A Vessel Born to Float. Her work has been published in the Huffington Post, AfroPunk, For Harriet, Rebel Muse Magazine and in the Race and Pedagogy Journal. As an actress, Watkins has been cast in several feature films, commercials, sketch/shorts and multiple new media projects with Buzzfeed, Issa Rae, Russell Simmons, Dailymotion and Black and Sexy TV garnering over 8 million views on YouTube and online. She is one fourth of the improv comedy group Obama’s Other Daughters and is represented by United Talent Agency and Coast To Coast Talent. In her free time Watkins serves on the Arts & Culture committee for Black Lives Matter Los Angeles.

3 p.m. – Li-young Lee

Henry Madden Library (HML) 3212 – Craft talk

Li-young Lee is the author of five critically acclaimed books of poetry, most recently The Undressing (W.W Norton, 2018), Behind My Eyes (W.W. Norton, 2008), and a chapbook The Word From His Song (BOA Editions, 2016). His earlier collections are Book of My Nights (BOA Editions, 2001); Rose (BOA, 1986), winner of the Delmore Schwartz Memorial Award from New York University; The City in Which I Love You (BOA, 1991), the 1990 Lamont Poetry Selection; and a memoir entitled The Winged Seed: A Remembrance (Simon and Schuster, 1995). He is also featured in Katja Esson‘s documentary, Poetry of Resilience. Li-young’s newest collection, The Undressing, investigates the violence and dispossession increasingly prevalent around the world, as well as the horrors he grew up with as a child of refugees. Lee draws from disparate sources, including the Old Testament, the Dao De Jing, and the music of Wu Tang Clan. Through the observation and translation of often unassuming and silent moments, the poetry of Li-young gives clear voice to the solemn and extraordinary beauty found within humanity. His poetry reveals a dialogue between the eternal and the temporal, and accentuates the joys and sorrows of family, home, loss, exile, and love. In “The City In Which I love You,” the central long poem in his second collection, Li-young asks, “Is prayer, then, the proper attitude / for the mind that longs to be freely blown, / but which gets snagged on the barb / called world, that / tooth-ache, the actual?”

7 p.m. – Evening Reading

Alice Peters Auditorium (PB 191) – with Steven Sanchez and Li-Young


WordFest is presented by the San Joaquin Literary Association and the Master of Fine Arts Program in Creative Writing at Fresno State.

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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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