LitHop festival includes MFA students and features tribute to Kamilah Okafor

Kamilah Okafor headshot

By Jefferson Beavers, communication specialist, Department of English | Photo: Kamilah Okafor

More than 100 writers will gather in Fresno’s Tower District on Saturday, Oct. 15 for LitHop 2022, the city’s free literary festival.

The lineup — which includes more than 30 readings to choose from at seven different venues between noon and 6 p.m. — features literary heavy-hitters such as American Book Award winners Sara Borjas and Joseph Rios, and current and past Fresno poets laureate Megan Anderson Bohigian and Marisol Baca. LitHop’s schedule is also packed with high school and college student writers, published authors with multiple books, performers reading in multiple languages, and more.

At least half of the writers performing at LitHop have connections to Fresno State as students, faculty, or alumni. This includes nine current graduate students from the Master of Fine Arts program in creative writing across four shows:

  • 12 to 12:45 p.m. at Spectrum Art Gallery (608 E. Olive Ave.) — Jacob Simmons, as part of the panel “Please Pull Your Mask Up: Teaching Stories From Pandemia.” All ages.
  • 2 to 2:45 p.m. at Splash Bar Fresno (644 E. Olive Ave.) — Rosie Bates, Mialise Carney, and Amber L. Carpenter, as part of the panel “A Reading with the San Joaquin Literary Association.” Ages 21 and over.
  • 2 to 2:45 p.m. at Teazer World Tea Market (645 E. Olive Ave.) — Michael Cantú, Andrea A. Marin Contreras, Alberto Saldaña Uribe, and Cristina Sandoval, as part of the panel “American Dreaming.” All ages.
  • 4 to 4:45 p.m. at Hart’s Haven Used Bookstore (950 N. Van Ness Ave.) — Juan Huerta and Amber L. Carpenter, as part of the panel “Witchy Writing.” All ages.

The last show of the day at this year’s LitHop will be “Home Again: A Tribute Reading for Kamilah Okafor.” A Bakersfield native and Fresno State alumna, Okafor was a writer and educator who passed away Aug. 20 at age 33. Her writing meditates on Black spirituality, the politicized workplace, and leaving home and circling back again.

The Okafor tribute will feature readings from Fresno State alumni Nancy Hernandez, Jackie Huertaz, Arielle K. Jones, Monique Quintana, Steven Sanchez, and Brenda Venezia. It is scheduled for 5 to 6 p.m. at The Revue Coffee Bar backroom, 620 E. Olive Ave. All ages.

The full festival schedule is available. LitHop venues will operate in accordance with local, state, and national health guidelines regarding the spread of COVID-19.

LitHop is an initiative of the Fresno Arts Council and was founded in 2016 by Lee Herrick, a past City of Fresno poet laureate who teaches at Fresno City College. This year’s lead organizer is poet and educator Von Torres, who teaches at Clovis Community College.

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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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