Poet laureate project ‘Catalina Neon’ seeks Central Valley entries

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Poet laureate project ‘Catalina Neon’ seeks Central Valley entries

As Juan Felipe Herrera completes his historic two-year term as United States poet laureate in April, the former Fresno State professor and first Latino named to the position is moving ahead on the last of three projects he has undertaken: “The Technicolor Adventures of Catalina Neon.” Submissions are being accepted from the public for the next phase with deadlines set the next two months. Launched in October, Catalina is a children’s poetry book that will contain six chapters, all guided by input from teachers, librarians and students. The first three chapters of the project are already finished, and the final chapter is scheduled to be completed by June. The first chapter, a bilingual illustrated poem about a young girl named Catalina and her dog, was written by Herrera and illustrated by artist Juana Medina. The submission deadline for the fourth chapter is March 10 and the deadline for the fifth chapter is April 28. At the end of each chapter, Herrera includes a prompt that allows teachers, community librarians and after-school program directors, along with their second- and third-grade students, to respond to and decide where the story will go next. Teachers and librarians also submit illustrations by the students to be included in the project. Herrera selects a handful of ideas from the students and teachers, and includes them in the next chapter of the book. Herrera encourages students from the Central Valley to get involved. “I want to see many Fresno and Valley entries,” Herrera said. INFO: Juan Felipe Herrera at juanfherrera@mac.com.