Reading Series Features a Trio of Prize-Winning Poets

Marcelo Hernandez Castillo, Marisol Baca, Mark Irwinand

By Jefferson Beavers, communication specialist, Department of English


The Fresno State Master of Fine Arts Program in Creative Writing will feature the Fresno Poet Laureate, the 2018 Philip Levine Prize for Poetry winner, and one of the founders of the groundbreaking Undocupoets campaign in its spring 2020 Fresno Poets’ Association reading series.

The series is hosted by poet Brynn Saito, an assistant professor in the English Department. Admission is free to both of this spring’s readings, which are sponsored by Fresno State’s College of Arts and Humanities, the Fresno County Public Library, and Poets & Writers Inc.

Mark Irwin
Mark Irwin

Saturday, Feb. 15 – Mark Irwin

Mark Irwin’s 10th book, “Shimmer,” won the 2018 Philip Levine Prize for Poetry. Irwin’s nine collections of poetry include “A Passion According to Green” (2017), “American Urn: New & Selected Poems” (1987- 2014), “Tall If” (2009), “Bright Hunger” (2004), and “White City” (2000). His collection of essays, “Monster: Distortion, Abstraction, and Originality in Contemporary American Poetry,” was published in 2017. Recognition for Irwin’s work includes four Pushcart Prizes, two Colorado Book Awards, The Nation/Discovery Award, the James Wright Poetry Award, and fellowships from the Fulbright, Lilly, NEA, and Wurlitzer foundations.

He earned his Ph.D. from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, and his Master of Fine Arts degree from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop at the University of Iowa. Living in Los Angeles and Colorado, he teaches graduate and undergraduate poetry workshops in the Creative Writing & Literature Program at the University of Southern California. 

The reading will be held at 2:30 p.m. in the Henry Madden Library, inside room 2206 (second floor, south wing), 5200 N. Barton Ave.

Saturday, April 25 – Marcelo Hernandez Castillo & Marisol Baca

Marcelo Hernandez Castillo is the author of “Cenzontle,” which won the 2017 A. Poulin Jr. prize and the 2018 Northern California Book Award. Castillo was born in Zacatecas, Mexico and immigrated at the age of five with his family to California’s Central Valley. As an AB540 student, he earned his bachelor’s degree from Sacramento State and was the first undocumented student to graduate from the Helen Zell Writers Program at the University of Michigan. His immigration case was used by the Supreme Court to justify the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) under President Obama.

Marcelo Hernandez Castillo
Marcelo Hernandez Castillo

Castillo is a founding member of the Undocupoets campaign, which successfully eliminated citizenship requirements from all major first poetry book prizes in the country and was recognized with the Barnes and Noble “Writers for Writers” award from Poets & Writers Magazine.

Marisol Baca is the author of “Tremor.” In 2019, she was named Fresno Poet Laureate. She is the first woman and Chicanx/Latinx poet to hold this appointment, and her poem, “The Origin of Certain Place Names: for Fresno” was designated the City of Fresno’s official poem.

Marisol Baca
Marisol Baca

Baca received her Master of Fine Arts degree from Cornell University, where she won the Robert Chasen poetry award for her poem, “Revelato.” She has been nominated for two Pushcart Prizes and currently teaches as an English professor at Fresno City College. She has established a community for women writers of color that seeks to support and uplift their writing endeavors.

The reading will be held at 2:30 p.m. at the Woodward Park Regional Library, 944 E. Perrin Ave. 

(Creative Writing Program graduate assistant Nou Her contributed to this report.)

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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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