Last month, during National Poetry Month, the Board of Supervisors for both Yuba and Sutter counties passed resolutions in favor of appointing Marcelo Hernandez Castillo as the new Poet Laureate for bi-county area, making him the only two-county Poet Laureate in the state, according to a release issued by Yuba Sutter Arts.
“Poet Laureate is an honorific title bestowed on a poet who has been appointed by a government or conferring institution, and is typically expected to compose poems for special events and occasions,” read the release.
Both County’s resolutions stated, “From a community standpoint, it is known that the arts bridge our differences and help build communities; it is the bricks and mortar of imagination, creativity, and cultural exchange. A poet laureate is an officially appointed poet who is often expected to compose or recite poetry for special events and occasions and to help celebrate and promote the reading, writing, and appreciation of poetry within the community.”
Castillo, a resident of Yuba County, is also the Yuba Sutter Arts’ Poet in Residence.
“He has been a highly effective teaching artist for its Jump StArts program teaching poetry in alternative high schools to at-risk and system-engaged youth,” read the release. “He has a special gift for giving a creative voice to these young people who have suffered significant trauma in their lives.”
According to the release, Castillo was born in Zacatecas, Mexico and immigrated to the California central valley as a child. As an AB540 student, he earned his B.A. from Sacramento State University and was the first undocumented student to graduate from the Helen Zell Writers Program at the University of Michigan, read the release.
“Marcelo also teaches in the MFA program at St. Mary’s University and in the Low-Residency MFA program at Ashland University,” read the release.
Castillo has written several award winning books including “Children of the Land: A Memoir,” “Dulce,” and a book of poetry entitled “Cenzontle.”