2023 Community Report

Spotlight on Faculty


Lee Herrick – California Poet Laureate

On a warm November afternoon, Governor Gavin Newsom and First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom made a special classroom visit to let English instructor Lee Herrick know that he would be the next California Poet Laureate. He is the 10th California Poet Laureate and is the first Asian American to serve in the role. Over the course of a two-year term, the Poet Laureate provides public readings in urban and rural locations across California, educates civic and state leaders about the value of poetry and creative expression and undertakes a significant cultural project, with one of the goals being to bring poetry to students who might otherwise have little opportunity to access it. In addition to organizing readings all over the state, Herrick hopes to build bridges between poetry and social justice. “I am deeply honored, humbled, and excited to be named California Poet Laureate,” he said. He plans to use his platform called Our California to bring together poetry with a social justice or civic engagement organization in each city that he visits during his term as the state’s Poet Laureate. “As a teacher, poet, and father, Lee writes movingly about his identity as a Californian and encourages others to reflect on what the state means to them,” said Governor Newsom. “Lee’s dedication to highlighting the diverse experiences of Californians, and making them so accessible through his poetry, makes him a perfect candidate for Poet Laureate. I look forward to his work to inspire communities and individuals across the state through the power of the written word.” Herrick has been teaching at FCC for 27 years and is the author of three books of poems: Scar and Flower, a finalist for the 2020 Northern California Book Award; Gardening Secrets of the Dead; and This Many Miles from Desire. In February, the college proudly celebrated his appointment with a special evening of poetry readings that included former and current students, colleagues, community members and Herrick himself. Herrick’s poetry canon explores the diversity and vitality of the California experience and the exhilarating success of the American experiment. Born in Daejeon, South Korea and adopted as an infant, he grew up in Modesto immersed in literature, art and various cultural influences. He served as Fresno’s poet laureate from 2015 to 2017. He is also a co-founder of LitHop, a literary festival in the city. He earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from California State University, Stanislaus. His master’s thesis was entitled: “Aristotelian Theory in Presidential Rhetoric.” He compared writings by the Greek philosopher Aristotle with President John F. Kennedy’s inaugural address plus speeches in times of crisis.


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