Monday, June 15, 2015

Juan Felipe Herrera, First Latino U.S. Poet Laureate: "My Main Goal Was to Shake Hands with as Many People as Possible, of All Ages, and to Reshake Them into Poetry"

Natasha Hakimi comments on the appointment of Juan Felipe Herrera to the position of U.S. poet laureate: as she notes, Herrera is the son of Mexican migrant workers who came to California in 1948. He spent his childhood in tents and trailers as his parents moved around among farm communities in southern California seeking work. 


And yet, Herrera managed to break through the walls built by an elitist, often racist, literary establishment and has published over two dozen tomes of poetry, short stories, young adult novels, plays and even children’s books. His variety of publications shows a desire to spread the word to readers of all ages and tastes, and his professional career as a teacher in colleges as well as prisons, art galleries and community centers shows his commitment to poetry as literary liberator that makes no distinctions of class, race, gender or age.

Hope here. And in Herrera's proclamation, when he was poet laureate of California,

People already have the poetry; they just need a reminder that "Yes, this is the time to express yourself." ... So my main goal was to shake hands with as many people as possible, of all ages, and to reshake them into poetry.

The PBS video at the head of the posting is included in Hakimi's article about Juan Felipe Herrera.

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