Alejandro Murguía Named SF Poet Laureate

For Immediate Release
Contact: Michelle Jeffers
(415) 557-4282; mjeffers@sfpl.org

July 27, 2012

MAYOR LEE NAMES ALEJANDRO MURGUÍA AS 6TH SF POET LAUREATE

Mayor Edwin M. Lee last night introduced Alejandro Murguía as the City’s 6th Poet Laureate, at Friends of the San Francisco Public Library’s third San Francisco International Poetry Festival kickoff event in Kerouac Alley.

Poet, editor, translator, literary organizer and educator, Murguía is the author of Southern Front (Bilingual Review Press) and This War Called Love: Nine Stories (City Lights Books), both recipients of the American Book Award. His most recent book of poems, Native Tongue (CC. Marimbo Press, Berkeley) was published in February 2012. His other books of poetry are Spare Poems (Luna’s Press, 2001) and Oracíon a la Mano Poderosa (Editorial Pocho-Che, 1972).

“I am thrilled to announce Alejandro Murguía as the new San Francisco Poet Laureate, a position that exemplifies San Francisco’s rich literary history and tradition,” said Mayor Edwin M. Lee. “Murguía, who founded the Mission Cultural Center, has been a champion of many local authors, artists, poets as well as a great contributor to the literary community in the City, and this honor is richly deserved.”

Murguía, a professor of Latino/Latina studies at San Francisco State University, is also the author of the non-fiction book, The Medicine of Memory: A Mexica Clan in California (University of Texas Press). The book draws on memories—his own and his family’s reaching back to the 18th century—to (re)construct the forgotten Chicano-indigenous history of California.

Born in California, Murguía has spent nearly his entire literary life in San Francisco. A long-time literary activist, he published first books by José Montoya, Roberto Vargas, Nina Serrano, Elias-Hruska-Cortes and raúlsalinas and edited Tin-Tan Magazine. He co-edited anthologies including Volcán: Poetry from Central America (City Lights Books, 1984) and Time to Greez! Incantations from the Third World (Glide Publications, 1974). As a translator, his projects have included Angel in the Deluge (City Lights Books, 1993) by Rosario Murillo.

A longtime literary organizer, in addition to participating in the San Francisco International Poetry Festival, Murguía organized the Flor Y Canto en el Barrio festivals in 2008 and 2011 and has been an active participant in Litquake since its inception.

As Poet Laureate, Murguía intends “to make San Francisco the poetic center of the Americas, a city where poetry, poetry readings and poetry workshops would blossom everywhere people work and gather, in schools and libraries, in detention centers so that hope might also spring from poetry, in government offices, the Board of Supervisors, even the Mayor’s office, because poetry demands an honest voice, expressed in clear language that is true to the word.”

About the San Francisco International Poetry Festival

Honoring our City’s great legacy of encouraging cross cultural dialogue, Friends of the San Francisco Public Library, in partnership with the San Francisco Public Library,  the Mayor’s Office of Protocol and Emeritus San Francisco Poet Laureate Jack Hirschman, present this landmark event that brings more than 18 poets from all around the world to San Francisco for free and open-to-the-public poetry and music.  The four-day festival kicks off Thursday, July 26 in Kerouac Alley in North Beach, followed by public poetry readings, translation workshops and children’s programs, on Friday and Saturday, July 27-28, in Civic Center Plaza and the San Francisco Main Library, and then concludes on Sunday, July 29 with the North Beach Poetry Crawl. More information at sfipf.org.

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