March 21, 2016 Poet Laureate to Give Final Lecture on April 13

Press Contact: Donna Urschel (202) 707-1639
Public Contact: Rob Casper (202) 707-5394

Juan Felipe Herrera will conclude his term as the 21st Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry at the Library of Congress with a lecture titled "Pioneers of Flower and Song." The event will end with two young poets reading their own work, and a poem written with the Poet Laureate.

The event, presented by the Library's Hispanic Division and its Poetry and Literature Center, will start at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, April 13, in the Coolidge Auditorium on the ground floor of the Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First St. S.E., Washington, D.C. Free and open to the public, the discussion will be followed by a book-signing and reception. Tickets are not required, but early arrival is strongly recommended.

The event is presented in conjunction with Split This Rock and will kick off this year's Split This Rock Festival. The biennial Washington, D.C. festival presents four days of readings, workshops and discussions.

"We're thrilled to collaborate for the first time with the Library of Congress, kicking off our 2016 festival with this presentation by our remarkable Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera," said Split This Rock Executive Director Sarah Browning.

In his lecture, Herrera will read from and discuss poets Francisco X. Alarcón, Alurista, Gloria Anzeldua, Lorna Dee Cervantes, Victor Martinez, José Montoya and Raúl Salinas. After his lecture, he will ask 11-year-old Sarita Sol Gonzalez and 12-year old Elena Medina to take the stage. Herrera met both during his travels as Poet Laureate—Gonzalez in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Medina in Chula Vista, California. Both will recite poems written for the occasion—on the themes of mentorship, community and change—and will read a poem written with Herrera.

Herrera says of his lecture, "During the last 45 years, I have been blessed to have been in the circle of many young (as I was) migrant and immigrant poets-in-the-making. These poetry-makers were founders of what we can call the Flower and Song Chicana and Chicano Poetry Movement. Who were they? Where did they forge their words? Why would they take up such an impossible project? Their leaping, experimental, daring and compassionate strides pulled me toward Flor y Canto (flower and song), the place of full being and of becoming a poet."

Juan Felipe Herrera is the author of 30 books of poetry, novels for young adults and collections for children, most recently "Portraits of Hispanic American Heroes" (2014), a picture book showcasing inspiring Hispanic and Latino Americans. His most recent book of poems is "Notes from the Assemblage" (2015). For his poetry, Herrera has received two Latino Hall of Fame Poetry Awards, a PEN USA National Poetry Award, the PEN Oakland / Josephine Miles Award and a PEN / Beyond Margins Award. He has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference and the Stanford University Chicano Fellows.

During his term as Poet Laureate, Juan Felipe Herrera launched an online project—"La Casa de Colores" (The House of Colors)—which invited Americans to contribute a verse to an "epic poem" about the American experience. The poem, titled "La Familia," continues to unfold monthly, with a new theme each month about an aspect of American life, values or culture. "La Casa de Colores" also includes "El Jardín" (The Garden), a monthly feature on the Library of Congress website that includes primary resources, videos, poems and curator comments and showcases Herrera interacting with and responding to select items in the Library's collections.

"'La Casa de Colores' is a house for all voices," said Herrera. "In this house we will feed the hearth and heart of our communities with creativity and imagination. And we will stand together in times of struggle and joy." "La Casa de Colores" was launched on the Library's poetry website in September 2015 to coincide with the Library's Hispanic Heritage Month celebrations.

Split This Rock cultivates, teaches and celebrates poetry that bears witness to injustice and provokes social change. It calls poets to a greater role in public life and fosters a national network of socially engaged poets. Building the audience for poetry of provocation and witness from its home in the nation's capital, the organization celebrates poetic diversity and the transformative power of the imagination. For more information, visit External.

The Hispanic Division at the Library of Congress was established in 1939 to acquire Portuguese and Hispanic materials in systematic fashion. Its holdings now constitute the world's finest collection on the history and culture of Latin America, Iberia and the Caribbean. The division's collections include the Archive of Hispanic Literature on Tape, as well as government documents, manuscripts, music scores, posters, photographs and films. To find out more about the Hispanic Division, visit

The Poetry and Literature Center at the Library of Congress fosters and enhances the public's appreciation of literature. The center administers the endowed poetry chair (the U.S. Poet Laureate), and coordinates an annual literary season of poetry, fiction and drama readings, performances, lectures and symposia, sponsored by the Library's Gertrude Clarke Whittall Poetry and Literature Fund and the Huntington Fund. For more information, visit

The Library of Congress is the largest library in the world with more than 162 million items in various languages, disciplines and formats. The Library serves the U.S. Congress and the nation both on-site in its reading rooms on Capitol Hill and through its award-winning website at


PR 16-055
ISSN 0731-3527