Yuba Sutter Poet Laureates

For the 2022-2023 Year!

Marcelo Hernandez Castillo – Yuba Sutter Poet Laureate

Yuba Sutter Poet Laureate Marcelo Hernandez Castillo

Marcelo Hernandez Castillo’s most recent book is Children of the Land: a Memoir (Harper Collins) which received acclaim from Vanity Fair, Entertainment Weekly, the LA Times, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and was finalist for the International Latino Book Award. He is also the author of poetry book Cenzontle, winner of the A. Poulin, Jr. prize (BOA editions 2018), which was awarded the the Great Lakes Colleges Association’s New Writer Award for poetry, the 2019 Golden Poppy Award from the Northern California Independent Booksellers Association, and the FOREWORD INDIE bronze prize for best book of the year. Cenzontle was also a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award, the California Book Award, the Publishing Triangle’s Thom Gunn Award for Gay Poetry, and the Northern California Book Award. Cenzontle received star reviews from Publisher’s Weekly, Harvard Review, The San Francisco Chronicle among many others and was listed as one of NPR’s and the New York Public Library top books of 2018. His first chapbook, Dulce, was the winner of the Drinking Gourd Prize (Northwestern University Press). 

    His work has been adopted to opera through collaboration with the composer Reinaldo Moya and he is the translator of the Argentinian modernist poet, Jacobo Fijman and is currently at work translating the poems of the contemporary Mexican Peruvian poet Yaxkin Melchy. He co-translated the work of the Mexican poet Marcelo Uribe with acclaimed poet C.D. Wright before her untimely passing.

    He is a founding member the Undocupoets campaign which successfully eliminated all citizenship requirements from every major first book poetry prize in the nation and for which he received the Writers for Writers Award from Barnes and Noble and Poets and Writers Magazine. He was the first undocumented student to graduate from the Helen Zell Writers Program at the University of Michigan.

    A graduate of the Canto Mundo Latinx Poetry fellowship, he has also received fellowships to attend the Vermont Studio Center and the Community of Writers Workshop. He has taught at literary organizations such as the Chautauqua Institution, Tin House, The Writers Center in D.C., Hugo House in Seattle, 92Y in NYC and as was awarded a distinguished fellow position for the Marshall Project’s Art For Justice initiative from the University of Arizona which advocates for prison reform. He a 2022 guest editor for the Poem-A-Day project from the Academy of American Poets and currently teaches in the creative writing program at St. Mary’s University, and the Ashland Low-Res MFA Program, as well as poetry workshops for incarcerated youth in Northern California as the Yuba and Sutter County poet laureate.

Find more information and purchase Marcelo’s book at his website, marcelohernandezcastillo.com.

Salma Alfaqeeh – Yuba Sutter Youth Poet Laureate

Youth Poet Laureate Salma Alfaqeeh

I’m Salma Alfaqeeh, the Youth Poet Laureate for Yuba-Sutter. I have been writing for several years with a focus on poetry. I received two gold keys (regional awards) for poetry in the 2022 Scholastic Art and Writing Awards and one collection went on to win a silver medal (national award). I also participated in Poetry Out Loud 2022, where I won the Yuba County competition.

I am honored to be serving as the Yuba-Sutter Youth Poet Laureate and I can’t wait to help other young writers to explore poetry and creative writing. I believe that poetry is one of the most important (and underutilized) tools we have in education, and I’m very excited for other youth in the area to receive more opportunities to engage with it.

If you have any questions regarding upcoming/ongoing youth writing programs please feel free to contact me via email at salma1alfaqeeh@gmail.com.