The experiences of Mexican Americans just got a higher profile with Governor Jerry Brown’s naming yesterday of California’s next Poet Laureate, Juan Felipe Herrera, poetry professor at UC Riverside and author of 28 books.
The son of migrant farm workers and the first in his family to attend college, the 63-year old Herrera holds the Tomás Rivera Endowed Chair in the Department of Creative Writing at UC Riverside and is known for chronicling the bittersweet lives, travails and contributions of Mexican Americans.
You can get a taste of Herrera’s lively style in this UCTV lecture/performance “A Natural History of Chicano Literature,” recorded in 2005.
We were also thrilled to receive this delightful 10th anniversary greeting from Herrera and his UCR colleage Karen Wilson back in 2010.
Herrera has published numerous volumes of poetry, prose, theater, children’s books and young adult novels, among them “Half of the World in Light: New and Selected Poems” (University of Arizona, 2008), which received the PEN/Beyond Margins Award, the International Latino Award in poetry, and the National Book Critics Circle Award. He has been elected to the Board of Chancellors of the Academy of American Poets, and has received the Guggenheim Fellowship in poetry, fellowships and grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the California Arts Council, and the UC Berkeley Regent’s Fellowship. Other honors include the Breadloaf Fellowship in Poetry, the Stanford Chicano Fellows Fellowship, the Ezra Jack Keats Award, the Hungry Mind Award of Distinction and the Focal Award.