I think that many of us forget the power that a well written piece can have. I know one of the best experiences I have had with writing was in my freshman year, with Professor Alex Espinoza in his Advanced Creative Fiction course. I always saw the duality of writing; it as a skill and it as a creative release, but not until that class did I really begin to appreciate the space of a Reading, and appreciate the way that people interacted with an author and the presence of the author’s work. One of Fresno State’s own is working to bring that feeling and experience to the masses.
“I read a lot in high school, but never took writing seriously until after participating in an event called “Poetry Out Loud”. Competing made me realize just how clear it is to tap deeply into the words of famous poets and also how important it is to take advantage of the world listening to only you, even for a brief moment. To believe in yourself that your words retain weight just as much as any other noted piece.” said Amanda Valdez the creator and lead organizer behind the up coming ArtHop showcase, HartHop.
“I wanted to create this event to showcase not only strong creative writing talent from Fresno’s educational institutes, but also to highlight those like myself who are just simply Art Hop enthusiasts. Those who, in their spare time, feel the same drive to create something honest with their words after the day is done.” continued Valdez.
ArtHop, is one of Fresno’s most active and successful programs, and is organized by the Fresno Arts Council. On the first and third Thursdays of every month, art and music lovers and enthusiasts flock to the vibrant and creative venues that are concentrated in Fresno’s own downtown and Tower District areas. Exhibitions are open and free to the public from 5:00pm until 8:00pm.
For many years, ArtHop has been considered the definitive space for local artists and musicians to showcase their latest, make new fans, and network. However most of the work that is showcased is visual or auditory; Painting, sculpture, photography, solo or ensemble music performances, etc. Valdez wanted to change that, or should I say expand the definition of an ArtHop exhibition. “This is the first event I’ve ever set up. I know that there are events similar that have been around such as Inner Ear Competitive Poetry Slams. I’ve been to a couple and they’re great. But, what slightly separates this event is that it is not promoted as a fun competition but more so as a local collaboration. I want this to be something where the community comes in to listen and support their friends and strong artistic contributors of Fresno in a intimate book store environment. This way not only are the readers promoted, but the venue as well.”
So she partnered with Harts Haven, a local used book store on 950 North Van Ness, in the hart of the Tower District, and good friend and local promotor and P.R. maven John Esquivel of Religious Appeal, to put it all together. “I wanted to work on this event with Amanda because I feel like writing is something I haven’t incorporated into events. I love writing and I have a journalism degree from Fresno State. It’s about time I helped out with a full-on reading. Also, there are so many different types of writers in Fresno. Amanda loves writing poetry, I work a lot with blogs and zines, and some of our other writers work on lyrics, journaling, etc. We wanted to make a reading that wasn’t focused on just one type. Our only theme is expression. I’m sure there have been other readings at ArtHop, but nothing within my scope. I’m hoping to help fill that void some writers,” said Esquivel.
“I once heard Lee Herrick say: “Fresno is a great place to be a poet.” Fresno is a strong community. Both worlds should be able to come together, hear, and support what the other has to say. I wanted to incorporate some student writers because I wanted them to get more experience with reading in front of different crowds and for local writers to get out of their comfort zone and share what they have been wanting to share for sometime now, but didn’t know where to go,” says Valdez, as she explained to my why she felt it was important to showcase different styles of writing.
Valdez also made the decision to diversify the event further, by incorporating local musical acts, Brother Luke and Brown Giraffe. “I chose to incorporate music just to simply break up the event a little,” said Valdez.
“I think musicians are the unspoken poet in some respects. Their writing can be celebrated, but it seems like a lot of writing doesn’t live beyond the songs as much as it should. It was important for us to incorporate musicians into this event for those reasons. We treated the reading and musician participation all the same,” added Esquivel.
An undertaking like this exhibition is a feat to not be taken lightly, and is a reminder and display of not only how talented some of our own are here at Fresno State, but also as a whole within the community. If this seems like something up your alley, or you feel like trying something new on a Thursday night, stop by on May 2nd. The doors open at 6:30 pm and the festivities begin at 7:00 pm. If you are interested in being apart of what is hopefully the first of many HartHops, don’t hesitate to email submissions directly to Ms. Valdez here, firstname.lastname@example.org.