Poetry, parade to mark opening of new Bay Bridge today


Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom will take over ceremonial responsibilities for Gov. Jerry Brown at Monday’s ceremonies to mark the opening for the new eastern span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge.

Brown, who has defended the bridge’s construction amid questions about its safety, is in Michigan with his wife, Anne, for her family reunion. The ceremonies have been scaled down somewhat in light of the controversy surrounding the new span, but it will include a ceremonial chain cutting, a parade of antique cars and an offering from the state’s poet laureate, Juan Felipe Herrera.

Bridges are rich targets for poets, a literal manifestation of the kinds of connections that Herrera has said was a goal of his own writing. As Times reporter Larry Gordon reported when Herrera was named poet laureate by Brown in 2011:


“Herrera would like to make the entire state a democratic, virtual poetry workshop. He envisions a gigantic communal poem to be passed around the Internet over the next two years so writers at high schools, colleges and community centers can add their own lines.

“It’s tentatively titled ‘The Most Incredible and Biggest Poem in the World on Unity.’ Herrera describes it as a ‘nice, juicy, long poem, a multidimensional poem that talks about what we are all facing, from as many traditions and cultures and places.’ ”

Most of what has been written about the new bridge has been prose, and not all of it flattering. Most of the coverage of the bridge in recent months has focused on the dozens of massive steel bolts holding the decks of the bridge that had to be replaced after failing safety tests. But Caltrans engineers have deemed the span safe enough to start carrying traffic on Tuesday morning.


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