California Arts Council

State of California

Press Release Detail

January 04, 2007Mary Beth Barber

California Poet Laureate Al Young to Tour State

Jazz Poet to Visit 11 Communities in April 2007; Focus on Rural Areas


California Poet Laureate Al Young will visit 11 cities in California beginning April 12 through April 22, 2007 to celebrate National Poetry Month and National Library Month. Young's tour will take him from the north of the state to the south as he gives readings and poetry workshops in libraries from Mendocino to San Diego County. Young's will also participate in National Cowboy Poetry Week in Siskiyou County by reading with local cowboy poets.

Young's tour emphasizes rural communities in the Central Valley and mountain regions. "Al Young has been extremely popular in rural California, and the tour will go through the Coastal Mountains, Central Valley, Sierra Nevada and Inland Empire," said Ray Tatar, Arts Specialist for the California Arts Council. "Exposure to the California Poet Laureate should be available to all Californians, not just those in the cities," he said.

Young is well known for the jazz rhythms in his work and often reads with a musical accompanist. A native of Mississippi who spent most of his adult life in the San Francisco Bay Area, he began publishing poems, articles and stories at a very young age. "Like jazz, Al Young is an original American voice," said Muriel Johnson, Director, California Arts Council.

Young has taught poetry and fiction writing at a number of universities nationwide, including the Universities of California at Berkeley, Santa Cruz and Davis; and Stanford University, among others. His works have appeared in The New York Times, Chicago Review, Seattle Review, Rolling Stone, and the Norton Anthology of African-American Literature. As a screenwriter, Young has worked with Sidney Poitier, Bill Cosby and Richard Pryor.

Young often travels internationally, and has been a guest lecturer for the U.S. Department of State as a representative of African-American literature and culture. His work has been translated into various languages including German, Japanese, Spanish and Russian. His numerous awards include the Wallace Stegner, Guggenheim, Fulbright, National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships; the PEN-USA Award for Non-Fiction; and the Pushcart Prize, as well as two American Book Awards and a New York Times Notable Book of the Year citation.

"He is an educator and a man with a passion for the Arts," said Gov. Schwarzenegger in the announcement of Young's appointment in May of 2005. "His remarkable talent and sense of mission to bring poetry into the lives of Californians is an inspiration."

Tour Schedule 

  Mendocino, Thursday, April 12th
  Crescent City, Friday, April 13th
  Mount Shasta, Saturday, April 15th
  Chico, Sunday, April 15th
  Nevada City, Monday, April 16th
  Stockton, Tuesday, April 17th
  Bakersfield, Wednesday, April 18th
  Barstow, Thursday, April 19th
  Riverside, Friday, April 20th
  Palm Springs, Saturday, April 21st
  Carlsbad, Sunday, April 22nd

Members of the press may contact Mary Beth Barber at 916-322-6588 or More information on the tour will be provided later this month.

The mission of the California Arts Council, a state agency, is to advance California through the Arts and Creativity. Members of the California Arts Council include: Chair Marcy Friedman, Vice Chair Michael Alexander, Annette Bening, Eunice David, Phyllis Epstein, Malissa Feruzzi Shriver, Barbara George, Chong-Moon Lee, Michael Rubel, and Fred Sands.

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