Michael Medrano once did a reading in the men’s department of a Sear’s store, right next to the socks and the underwear. It would have been a tough gig, even if people had showed, which they didn’t. No one told Medrano he needed to bring his own crowd. They never do.
He read anyway, because that’s what he does. He did a full 20 minutes, shouting his poems to passing shoppers until the manager came and told him to tone it down some.
So, it wasn’t the most successful reading.
“There were just two people and one of them fell asleep,” says Medrano, a Fresno poet, who was tapped to be a guest blogger for Poets & Writers during the month of July. That Sears story came from this week’s post. It was about unusual reading spaces.
Medrano has followed Poets & Writers magazine for years and says it’s a big deal among his circle of friends. Having that outlet to share thoughts about life as a writer in the Central Valley was an honor, he says.
Plus, they came to him. “I’m usually pursuing people,” he says.
Sears reading aside, the Valley isn’t a terrible place to be a poet. Yes, there is an inherent struggle in making art here, but for those with the drive, the final product becomes a thing that is unique and authentic to the region. “Everything is done with our own hands,” Medrano says. “I think that is the beauty of living here in the Valley and doing your art.”
Along with his poetry, Medrano teaches English at Fresno City College, hosts a literary radio show on KFCF and teaches the bi-weekly Random Writer’s Workshop. The next workshop is Saturday morning at the Hashtag, 1298 N. Wishon Ave. The class is $10. Five of Medrano’s poems will be featured on poetrymagazine.com in the fall and will be performing at Inner Ear Poetry Jam’s 11th Anniversary Aug. 16.
Below is a video of Medrano with more thoughts on what it means to be a writer in the Valley.