Fresno Beehive

Inner Ear word artist Bryan Medina is Fresno’s new poet laureate

Bryan Medina is Fresno’s new poet laureate.
Bryan Medina is Fresno’s new poet laureate.

Fresno has a new poet laureate: Bryan Medina. He’s the third in the role, following James Tyner and the just departing Lee Herrick. The appointment is for a two-year term.

It might be a new title for Medina, but he’s certainly not a new name on the Fresno literary scene. He is creator/producer of many one-shot poetry events around town such as Opera Remix: Music & Verse I & II, One Night Stanzas, Inner Ear vs The Rogue Performers, Hip-Hop & Oxygen, and Food for Thought Open Mic Reading.

But he’s mainly known for both Fresno’s Inner Ear Poetry Jam and the Inner Ear presents: The Beat Down Competitive Poetry Slam.

“My written work can be found in local journals such as Flies, Cockroaches, and Poets, In the Grove, the San Joaquin Review, and Invisible Memoirs among others,” he says.

The Fresno Arts Council holds an open nomination every two years asking the public to choose eligible local writers who has demonstrated a commitment to the literary arts through poetry. The criteria include a proven history of substantial publication of individual poems and/or books an established history of activity in the Fresno literary community.

Medina already has some projects and proposals in mind for his term.

“Since I already work in education, I would like to expand on that theme and reach out to schools to bring knowledge on our local writing history as well as find a way to let even more people know about our city how the poet laureate fits into that dynamic using technology.

Given his background in slam poetry, will he give that a boost?

“Of course!” he says. “Just talking about that, gets me excited about the opportunity of introducing Slam and Spoken Word artists to the Fresno lexicon in this platform to those not in the know or haven’t experience a live in your face reading that’s exciting, fun, edgy, timely, deep and just a great scene here in the valley.”

Medina is assuming his role at a time when the local literary environment seems more robust than ever. On Saturday, more than 150 writers will descend on the Tower District for the second annual LitHop festival.

“Fresno’s scene is strong and only getting better,” he says. “Where else can anybody brag about having two local poets become the nation’s Poet Laureate (Philip Levine and Juan Felipe Herrera). Throw in the fact that the Inner Ear/Beat Down Slam has been around 16 years next month – with people still coming in to share their stories – not to mention the really wonderful job that former Fresno poet laureate, Lee Herrick, did. Things haven’t been better.”

Medina’s Facebook page was flooded with comments and posts from well-wishers on Thursday after his official appointment at Fresno City Hall.

The new poet laureate responded:

Thank you to my family, friends, FB friends, co-workers, Inner Ear fans and the city of Fresno. To both my parents, tho longer with us, gave to to me, my brother and our sister, a drive to want to do “more”. To my brother Chris and my sister Kay— Love, Love, Love.

To the love of my life: Jayne Day~ Thank you for your patience, LOVE, and caring words. You Are My World.

Shout out to my teachers & mentors: Juan Felipe Herrera, Corrinne Clegg Hales, Tim Z. Hernandez, Timothy Skeen, Lee Herrick & Lilia Chavez for their contributions, guidance, kindness, and support.

Warm embraces to extended family: Mike Medrano, Jay McElroy, Shane “Scurvy” Spears,

James Tyner & family, Nick Belardes & Jane Hawley, Michael Dominquez.

To the thriving local spoken word / poetry community: Together, let’s take it to another level!