Poets Laureate Reading

California Laureate Lee Herrick, Hawaiian Laureate Kealoha & Oakland Youth Laureate Nadia Elbgal

Thursday, April 20, 2023
5:00 – 6:30pm PDT
Durham Studio Theater, Dwinelle Hall (map here)


The Arts Research Center is thrilled to bring together three poets whose dedication to craft is an inspiration for anyone seeking to approach their lives with more courage and compassion. Join us for a rare opportunity to hear from a gathering of poets laureate – profound thinkers who’s electric perspective, humor and tenderness bridge the distance between the sometimes difficult details of our lives and sudden states of grace. The reading will feature Lee Herrick, the first Asian American Poet Laureate of California; Kealoha, Hawaiʻi’s first poet laureate, a slam champion with a degree in nuclear physics from MIT; and Nadia Elbgal, Yemeni-American activist and Oakland Youth Poet Laureate.

Presented in celebration of National Poetry Month by the Arts Research Center in partnership with Engaging the Senses Foundation, and co-sponsored by the Center for Race & Gender and the Departments of English and Ethnic Studies.

EVENT ACCESSIBILITY If you require an accommodation for effective communication (ASL interpreting/CART captioning, alternative media formats, etc.) or information about campus mobility access features in order to fully participate in this event, please contact ARC’s program and access coordinator Indira Allegra at iallegra@berkeley.edu with as much advance notice as possible, and at least two weeks in advance of the event.

Lee Herrick is the California Poet Laureate. He is the author of three books of poems: Scar and Flower, Gardening Secrets of the Dead, and This Many Miles from Desire. He is co-editor, with Leah Silvieus, of The World I Leave You: Asian American Poets on Faith and Spirit (Orison Books 2020). He served as City of Fresno Poet Laureate from 2015-2017. His poems have appeared widely in literary magazines, anthologies, and textbooks including The Bloomsbury Review, Columbia Poetry Review, Berkeley Poetry Review, The Normal School, The Poetry Foundation, ZYZZYVA, Seeds from a Silent Tree: Writing by Korean Adoptees, Highway 99: A Literary Journey Through California’s Great Central Valley (2nd edition), The Place That Inhabits Us: Poems from the San Francisco Bay Watershed, Naming the Lost: The Fresno Poets—Interviews and Essays, One for the Money: The Sentence as Poetic Form, Indivisible: Poems of Social Justice, Dear America: Letters of Hope, Habitat, Defiance, and Democracy, and HERE: Poems for the Planet, with a foreword by His Holiness the Dalai Lama (Copper Canyon 2019), among others. Herrick serves on the advisory board of Terrain.org and Sixteen Rivers Press. He has taught in Qingdao, China, and for Kundiman. He co-founded LitHop in Fresno. He has traveled throughout Latin America and Asia, and has given readings across the United States. He was born in Daejeon, South Korea, adopted at ten months of age, and raised in California. He lives with his family in Fresno, California, and teaches at Fresno City College and in the low-residency MFA program at University of Nevada Reno at Lake Tahoe. He is the 10th California Poet Laureate, and the first Asian American to serve in the role.

Kealoha is the first Poet Laureate of Hawaiʻi. As an internationally acclaimed poet and storyteller, he has performed throughout the world — from the White House to the ʻIolani Palace, from Brazil to Switzerland. He is the first poet in Hawaiʻi’s history to perform at a governor’s inauguration, was selected as a master artist for a National Endowment for the Arts program, and delivered the keynote address for MIT’s special commencement ceremony in 2022. Kealoha’s latest work, The Story of Everything, is a science-based theater production that has toured in various cities throughout the United States and will premiere as a feature film at the 2022 Maui Film Festival. ​He is the founder of Hawaiʻi Slam (ranked 2nd in the nation), Youth Speaks Hawaiʻi (2-Time International Champions), and First Thursdays (the largest registered slam poetry competition in the world with an average attendance of 500+). He has featured at hundreds of live venues throughout the world including the Nuyorican poets cafe (New York City), the Bowery Poetry Club (New York City), the Green Mill (Chicago), the Schiffbau (Zürich, Switzerland), the Rokerij​ (Amsterdam, Netherlands), the Bienal do Ibirapuera (São Paulo, Brazil), and the 2007 NFL Pro Bowl halftime show. In the genre of storytelling, he has gained national recognition by showcasing at high profile events such as the National Storytelling Network Conference, the Bay Area Storytelling Festival, and the Honolulu Storytelling Festival. 

Nadia Elbgal is the Oakland Youth Poet Laureate. She is a Berkeley High graduate currently taking a few classes at Berkeley City College during her gap year. She is a Yemeni-American Muslim woman who advocates for and raises awareness on topics relating to the Middle Eastern and Muslim communities. Nadia has been a literacy mentor to Yemeni students in OUSD elementary schools as well as a teaching assistant in a mental health class at Hoover Elementary’s summer program. As an artist-activist, Nadia’s themes range from the Middle East to American cities: the perspectives, experiences, and effects on people from both sides. She is an older sister and cousin whose values and insight come from her upbringing in mixed cultures and families. As a storyteller, she identifies as an actor, playwright, lyricist, and poet. She plans to get a degree in social work and pursue a career that will help keep youth out of jails.

The following evening, ARC will be co-sponsoring

The Story of Everything: Film Screening
featuring the Storytelling of Kealoha

Friday, April 21, 2023
Doors open at 6:30pm, film at 7pm
Wheeler Auditorium, Wheeler Hall

ARC is proud to be co-sponsoring the Bay Area premiere of the award-winning film The Story of Everything. Come watch this multimedia creation story connecting consciousness and science, past and present, as told by the first Hawaiian Poet Laureate, Kealoha.

Watch the trailer here!

Engaging the Senses Foundation, who produced and directed The Story of Everything, is hosting this special screening. Event cosponsors include the Arts Research Center, Native Arts and Culture Foundation, and Arion Press.

This reading is part of ARC’s Poetry & the Senses Program, generously sponsored by Engaging the Senses Foundation.