More than 140 writers will gather in Fresno’s Tower District Saturday, April 23, for LitHop 2016, a free, all-ages literary festival that will be headlined by Fowler native and U.S. Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera.

At least half of the 140 writers performing at LitHop have connections to Fresno State as students, faculty, staff or alumni. This includes Herrera, a professor emeritus of Chicano and Latin American studies, and 24 graduate students and four faculty from the Master of Fine Arts Program in Creative Writing.

LitHop is an initiative of the Fresno Arts Council and the City of Fresno’s poet laureate, Lee Herrick, who teaches English at Fresno City College. Herrick and his organizing committee imagined an event that would bring together writers from all genres, at various stages of experience and accomplishment, inside or outside academia.

The lineup — which includes nearly 40 different readings to choose from at nine different venues between 2 and 8 p.m. — features literary heavy-hitters like Herrera and 2016 Walt Whitman Award winner Mai Der Vang alongside high school student writers, slam poets, authors reading in Spanish and more.

Herrick said the authors who teach in Fresno State’s Creative Writing Program and the graduate students who come from the program have shaped and continue to reshape the American literary tradition. Writers from Fresno State and the Central Valley will inspire the next generation of writers, he said, just as they inspire him.

“I am thrilled that among the 140 writers at LitHop, there are so many Fresno State writers, past and present,” Herrick said. “These are the writers whose brave voices are essential to a community like Fresno and an idea like LitHop.”

The reading by Herrera, who recently earned a rare second term as U.S. poet laureate and is the first Latino to ever hold the post, is set for 7 p.m. at Fresno City College in the Old Administration Building auditorium. Seating is first-come, first-served. A downloadable walking map and full schedule for the festival are available.