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Notes from Fresno Roundtable Meeting
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Jun 4, 2012, 4:45 PM

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Notes from Fresno Roundtable Meeting Can't Post

Periodically, Poets & Writers convenes regional roundtable meetings, where writers and other members of the literary community can exchange ideas, network, and discuss common challenges. If you're interested in being invited to the next roundtable in your area, please email cklein@pw.org. Below are notes from our last Fresno, California roundtable meeting. Please note that the text is not a transcript of what transpired, and that the opinions expressed by attendees are not necessarily shared by Poets & Writers.

Fresno Literary Roundtable Meeting

Hosted by Poets & Writers at Arte Americas

May 23, 2012

Cheryl Klein
Poets & Writers

Michael Jasso
TK Writers

Pam Fox
Central Valley Writers Workshop

Monica McClanahan
Willow Bridge Books

Judith Chibante Neal

Michael Medrano
KFCF 88.1 FM, Fresno Poet Laureate Committee

S. Bryan Medina
Inner Ear/Beat Down Slam

Jaguar Bennett
Linden Publishing

Jamie Moore
Mixed Roots Film & Literary Festival

Devoya Mayo
Soulflower Group

Stephen Mayu Jr.

Cindy Wathen
Fresno State


· Michael Medrano is offering workshops at Arte Americas for $8-$10, for people of all skill levels. Would like them to be ongoing. Collaborating with Random Writers Workshop in Bakersfield. Wants to do a “Poetry Train” using Amtrak and celebrating the intersection of poet culture and train culture.

· Michael Jasso wants to start a workshop in Visalia with an open mic session. Visalia has a lot in the way of music, but not a lot going on in terms of literature.

· Jaguar Bennett sees a need for an information clearinghouse for the Valley. (Update: He has since created the Facebook group San Joaquin Valley Writers & Literary News at http://www.facebook.com/groups/212173528903540/.)

· Michael M.: Most cities have an arts budget, but Fresno doesn’t. Local news should cover what’s happening in the arts.

· Fresno Arts Council had funding but ran out because of a tax that was declared illegal. They get some funding from ArtHop, hold grant writing workshops, do advocacy work. They are helping with Fresno Poet Laureate program and conducted Poetry Out Loud, but didn’t get much of a response to the latter. They would like to do a National Poetry Month event.

· Michael M. is working with Fresno Arts Council to hammer out Poet Laureate criteria. Will approach the city council in July. There will be an open nomination process. It will be a two-year position. The poet laureate will visit schools, do community events, lead workshops, participate in Big Read.

· Marketing is an issue for the arts. There’s Art Attack on KFCF, but it’s sometimes hard to get in touch with the producers. Suggestion: Why not have artists do the weather on local news?!

· Stephen: Spoken Word is not respected as much as “literary” poetry in Fresno.

· Could there be something like Page Meets Stage at the Bowery in New York?

· Literary events need to be more interdisciplinary. Devoya Mayo collaborates with a graphic artist and marketer for all Soulflower Group events. There are 12 people in the collective. Branding is always important. So is throwing a good party. Everyone should feel comfortable. Choose a good space (not just a free one), start on time, respect your audience. There’s more work to be done in cultivating young people to participate in the arts.

· Soulflower Group produces the members own events to meet their own needs, plus other events that meet their vision of community wellness.

Cheryl Klein, Director California Office and Readings/Workshops (West), Poets & Writers, Inc.

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