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‘Ninja poet’ final presenter in Positive People Speaker Series
Sam Pierstorff
Sam Pierstorff — professor of English at MJC, former Poet Laureate for the City of Modesto and the only poet to be a contestant on “American Ninja Warrior” — is the featured presented at MJC’s Positive People Speaker Series on March 7 (Photo contributed).

Sam Pierstorff, professor of English at MJC and former Poet Laureate for the City of Modesto, is the final spring semester presenter for MJC’s Positive People Speaker Series.  The free, public presentation is at 7 p.m. March 7 in the Mary Stuart Rogers Student Learning Center on West Campus, 2201 Blue Gum Ave., Modesto.  Campus parking is available for $2.  

The product of a Middle Eastern mother and a former Marine, Pierstorff received his Master of Fine Arts degree in creative writing from CSU Long Beach.  He went on to become the youngest Poet Laureate ever appointed in the state of California at 28 years old when he was selected to the position in 2004 by the City of Modesto.

As a performance poet, Pierstorff won University of California, Merced's Grand Slam championship in April 2013, the Rogue Festival Poetry Slam in 2015, and placed first in The Valley Talent Project's "Specialty Act" category sponsored by the Gallo Center for the Arts.  He also gave a TEDx talk at the Gallo Center in 2017.

Pierstorff is the founding editor of Quercus Review Press and creator of The Ill List, a renowned poetry slam competition. He has published over 200 poems and has performed his poetry at colleges and universities across the country. His debut poetry collection, “Growing Up in Someone Else’s Shoes,” was published by World Parade Books in 2010, and he co-edited “More Than Soil, More Than Sky: The Modesto Poets,” which launched to number one on Amazon's Poetry Best Seller list upon its release. He has also been a two-time a contestant on NBC’s “American Ninja Warrior,” Season 6, certifying him as the world’s first “#NinjaPoet.”

The Positive People speaker series, offered by the MJC Office of Campus Life and Student Learning, features local community members who have overcome challenges and obstacles to achieve their goals.  The community is invited to come hear these stories of inspiration and motivation.