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The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

English professor takes a verse; Getting a read on Jeff Knorr’s poetic life

Professor Jeff Knorr recites a poem during the Sacramento City College 100th Anniversary on Oct. 15, 2016. Photo by Corey Browning |
Professor Jeff Knorr recites a poem during the Sacramento City College 100th Anniversary on Oct. 15, 2016.
Photo by Corey Browning | [email protected]

Raquel Red Leaf-Barlese | Guest Writer | [email protected]

The words and the phrases he carefully crafts in his poems have the ability to grasp the reader. When he talks, he is forceful, but somehow soft in tone. He listens carefully. His voice is the weight of fog, but has the clarity of a diamond.

Jeffrey Knorr, the poet, the professor, the word-weaver.

He is better known as Jeff, and he is a published author of four books of poetry and other works. He was named Sacramento poet laureate in 2012 and will represent the city’s literary community until spring 2017. Currently, Knorr is the director of the River City Writers Series at City College, where he is a professor of English, literature and creative writing.

At age 50, Knorr continues to find his greatest passion. With age, he says he’s come to figure out that things are constantly changing. When he was younger, he says he focused on his job, his close circle of friends and living life to the fullest. Then, he had a family and his life was moving forward.

“I suppose these past 20 years have been about loving the people close to me that make up my family, and especially being a parent,” says Knorr.

Knorr says he has also found a job that he enjoys, in which he feels blessed and lucky to have. He teaches from a place of love by trying to meet everyone with deep, unfailing gratitude, and by appreciating his students for who they are.

Despite being busy, Knorr always finds the time to motivate and inspire himself. He talks about the close friendship with his grandfather, and how he became a great mentor to him.

“My grandpa and I fished a lot together, and along with my parents, he taught me to love, respect and care for nature,” says Knorr.

Nature has also played a significant role in Knorr’s life. A day on the river, bird hunting, and hiking helps calm him and find peace of mind. He says at these times, he’s more able to see life in a balanced way with a clear perspective. This helps in finding inspiration, as the beauty and grace of the natural world move him greatly.

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With the drawing of inspiration comes the background. Knorr says living and studying in London his third year of college at Richmond College changed his life. The experience he says allowed him to see the world as a smaller place and opened his mind to the possibility of doing things broadly.

This precipitated Knorr going back to Europe and living and teaching in Barcelona, Spain. These were pivotal years for him, he says, and led to him spending a fair amount of time in Guatemala, where he, along with his former wife, adopted his son.

With the slow hands of a ticking clock comes family, and the longing for time with his current wife and kids, Knorr says. Despite his hectic schedule, he always finds a place for his kids and wife, with whom he spends most of his free time.

“I’m a believer that people need things in their lives that they enjoy. It makes us better people, better to be around,” says Knorr. “Those things keep us grounded and sane.”

Surrounded by people who speak of him highly, Knorr continues to show his most raw and constantly real self.

“I’m a fellow poet, his supervisor and his friend,” says Dean of City College Language and Literature Division Albert Garcia. “I admire him for many reasons, not the least of which are his wonderful writing, his contributions to the local community as poet laureate of Sacramento, his abilities as a teacher, and his gregarious personality. We’re very lucky to have him at City College.”

Similarly, Joshua Roberts, an English professor and English Department Chair at City College, has been working with Knorr for the last decade.

“I can’t say enough good things about him,” says Roberts. “Not only is he a first-class person, he is a world-class poet.”

When juggling responsibilities becomes a task, Knorr manages to do it all with grace. Imagine a poet. Imagine a father, a husband, a writer, an author, a professor. In a room at City College, this person goes about his day. He has class, prepares readings, projects, teachings, and appearances at festivals and centers. He is as normal as a human being can get—except he’s not. He makes words bend to his will. He’s a storyteller.

“We all have our demons and hard times we come up against,” says Knorr. “I feel lucky and want to just try and meet every day, feeling like I’m blessed to be here with what I’m capable of doing.”

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