Sacramento is the stomping grounds of a large number of excellent poets, including the stellar Mary Zeppa and Kim Addonizio, profiled by CBS Local Sacramento several years ago. Between events, readings, poetry slams and open mic nights, there is live, original work being performed in the region virtually every night. The Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Commission began selecting poet laureates for the city in 2000, the county of Sacramento sponsors the Poetry Out Loud Recitation Contest and organizations like the Sacramento Poetry Center keep vibrant verse very much in the public eye. These are some of Sacramento’s most prolific poets worth a read.
Jeff Knorr’s work is deeply emotional, with a running theme of family, relationships and the ultimate connection of mankind and nature. Knorr is a living example of personal development and growth, as his original career plans began in college with the study of biology. Now a professor of English literature at Sacramento City College, the avid fisherman and naturist was named Poet Laureate for the region from 2014 to 2014. Knorr’s award-winning poetry books include “Keeper,” “Standing Up to the Day” and “The Third Body,” as well as “Mooring Against the Tide: Writing Poetry and Fiction.”
Ann Wehrman’s poetry and short fiction is expressive and contemplative, with glimpses of societal skewering at the core. Lush visions of flora and fauna abound, and she waxes poetic about Sacramento’s unofficial standing as a city of trees. Other works reflect her feelings on societal and cultural issues, presented in a powerful, yet melodic tone. “Miss Sally Mae Takes Archery Lessons,” a seemingly humorous or gentle example of her poetry, is actually centered on a child who kills innocent creatures in an unemotional and detached manner. Wehrman teaches English at American River College in Sacramento.
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Widely known poet Shawn Aveningo’s work is deceptively simple, very accessible and often quite a bit of fun. Her sobriquet of “The Red Show Poet” reflects her love of footwear, but the mother of twin girls also writes about issues of kinship, love, introspection and familial relationships. Aveningo hosts a year-round poetry gathering in Folsom called “Verse on the Vine” and has been published extensively around the country. She is particularly know for erotic imagery and earned the title of best female poet in Sacramento in 2009.
Tajiye L. Antwine, known as Brother Hypnotic, is a poet, author and founder of poetry site blacktastic.net. He performs monthly at the Brick House Gallery and Studio Complex in Oak Park and writes powerful pieces on pride and the experiences of African Americans. Growing up in racially charged and often violent areas of Compton and Long Beach, Bother Hypnotic believes strongly in promoting inner strength and cultural pride. He authored a book with empowering poetry for children and encourages other artists to share their vision in spite of adversity.
In addition to teaching poetry and creative writing at various venues, Bob Stanley is an English professor at Sacramento City and CSU Sacramento colleges. He is an accomplished poet, author, performer and composer, and shows a special affinity for Sacramento. His work “City of Many Rivers” is a loving ode to the region, and his 2012 anthology, “Late Peaches,” features more than 100 poets from the capitol city. Stanley is a past poet laureate and is the president of the Sacramento Poetry Center.
Valerie Heimerich is a freelance writer out of Sacramento. She typically covers animals and community issues. She has volunteered and worked for many organizations helping animals and people.
Her work can be found at Examiner.com.