Notes on the poets

Gary Snyder is among the most noted of our area’s poets. Born in California, Snyder first emerged as a literary figure during the time of the beat poets. His poetry has grown over the years as he has pursued his interests in Asian poetry, culture and religion. He won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry for Turtle Island (1974) and an American Book Award for Axe Handles (1983) and has been the recipient of many other national and international awards, including a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship. Snyder’s most recent collection, Danger on Peaks (2004), was a finalist for a National Book Critics Circle Award. He lives in rural Nevada County and teaches at UC Davis.

Julia Connor is Sacramento’s current poet laureate. The author of six books, Connor studied poetics at the New College of California. Her teaching experience includes many years as a faculty member of the California State Summer School for the Arts, workshops for adults with developmental disabilities and incarcerated adults at several California state prisons, and a three-year California Arts Council (CAC) artist-in-residence writing program for disenfranchised women. She served as the first deputy director of the CAC under then Governor Jerry Brown.

Joshua McKinney is an associate professor of English at California State University, Sacramento, and earned his Ph.D. in English from the University of Denver. His second book, The Novice Mourner, won the Dorothy Brunsman Poetry Prize and was published last fall by Bear Star Press. “Post Hoc” is a new poem; “The War at Home” is from The Novice Mourner.

Joe Wenderoth‘s most recent book is a collection of essays, The Holy Spirit of Life: Essays Written for John Ashcroft’s Secret Self. An associate professor of English at UC Davis, Wenderoth has published two collections of poetry: Disfortune (1995) and It Is As If I Speak (2000). His collection Letters to Wendy’s, though generally described as fiction, also has been called a series of prose poems.

Sandra M. Gilbert is an emeritus professor of English at UC Davis. Perhaps best known as co-author, along with Susan Gubar, of The Madwoman in the Attic: The Woman Writer and the Nineteenth-Century Literary Imagination, Gilbert’s academic work is a mainstay of contemporary literary criticism and women’s studies. “January meadow,” is from her seventh and most recent collection of poetry, Belongings: Poems (2004). Her awards include a National Book Award for Poetry (for Kissing the Bread: New and Selected Poems, 1969-1999), a Patterson Prize, the John Ciardi Lifetime Achievement Award in Poetry, and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Jose Montoya was Sacramento’s poet laureate in 2003 and 2004. An emeritus professor of art at CSUS, Montoya is a noted muralist, painter and musician as well as the author of several collections of poetry. He is well-known for his ability to combine activism with art and is one of the founders of the Royal Chicano Air Force (originally named the Rebel Chicano Art Front), a collective of Chicano visual artists based in Sacramento. One of his accomplishments as the city’s third poet laureate was the Flor Y Canto festival, held in April 2004, which brought several days of poetry readings and activities to Sacramento.