One of City College’s professors was recently honored with the prestigious distinction of being named the next poet laureate for the city of Sacramento.
English professor Jeffrey Knorr was named poet laureate Aug. 13 to the city of Sacramento by the Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Commission, SMAC.
Poet laureate is an honor bestowed by a leading body—in this case, SMAC—to represent the community in matters of arts and literature. The tradition of establishing a poet laureate dates back to the Greek empire, during which time the laureate would be required to write praise of leadership and about events of national rejoice or tragedy.
“[The award] is kind of symbolic of a wider net of so many faculty here who are award winners or are going to be future award winners of all sorts of things; I mean, really, it’s a tremendous faculty,” said Knorr.
“Maybe I look at it as a way to have publicity for the college that is simply symbolic of so many people here. I hope also it might make people want to come take classes in our creative writing department.”
Knorr has written several poetry and mixed-genre compilations and co-edited two textbooks and an anthology. Some of his titles include: “The Third Body”, “Standing Up to the Day”, and “Keeper”.
“Many of [Knorr’s] most memorable pieces use natural settings as a means to a larger social or philosophical inquiry,” said Kevin Stein, poet laureate for the state of Illinois in his letter of recommendation for Knorr. “This capacious quality of mind is what distinguishes [Knorr’s] work from contemporary poets concerned merely with solitary musings on self.”
Julia Connor, Sacramento poet laureate from 2005 to 2009 believes Knorr’s all-around qualities influence his work.
“[Knorr’s] enthusiasm for poetry is matched only by the range of his taste, and by a sturdy, hands-on and thorough working knowledge of the components that go into the creation of it,” said Connor. “I believe him to be capable of strengthening the community from which poetry comes, and wise enough to nourish each of its distinct varieties.”
The rigorous process of becoming poet laureate includes a process of nomination. In addition, submissions of recommendations, writing samples, and publication resumes are required from each writer. Once the aforementioned has been completed, one’s submissions are reviewed and voted upon by the board at SMAC.
“[This achievement] definitely put a spotlight on Sac City: the fact that we’ve got some legitimate professors,” said City College student, Derek Ludwig. “I would recommend [to] anyone, if they’re going into English, go to [Knorr].”
Becoming poet laureate will mean that Knorr will be doing many more poetry readings and making many public appearances, but he says he plans to give back to the community as well.
Working in conjunction with the SMAC, Knorr says he intends to start a program designed to bring writers into area schools to work with children on their reading and writing skills at the third and fifth grade levels.
Albert Garcia, dean of the language and literature department at City College, nominated Knorr for the position and says the award is a great honor.
“Considering the wealth of poets in the Sacramento region overall, it’s a real nice honor, and Jeff is the kind of person who will make a great representative, both for poetry in the community and for the college,” said Garcia.