April 13, 2016 Juan Felipe Herrera Named Poet Laureate for Second Term
Press Contact: Donna Urschel (202) 707-1639
Public Contact: Robert Casper (202) 707-5394
Acting Librarian of Congress David Mao has appointed Juan Felipe Herrera to serve a second term as the 21st Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry.
“In his first term as Laureate, Juan Felipe Herrera traveled the country championing poetry; he also launched an ambitious project on the Library’s website,” said Mao, who announced the appointment this evening at Herrera’s end-of the-term lecture at the Library of Congress. “We look forward to seeing what Herrera will accomplish in his second term, and we know he will continue to inspire and educate with his warmth, enthusiasm, and creative genius.”
On being appointed to serve a second term, Herrera, who is the first Hispanic poet to serve in the position, said, “Deep gratitude and great joy, and many thank-you’s to the Library. I look forward to continuing my first year’s momentum and sharing the inspiration tsunami given to me in every community that I visit throughout the U.S.A. as Laureate.”
Herrera’s second term will begin Sept. 1. He will follow previous multiyear laureates such as Natasha Trethewey, Kay Ryan, Ted Kooser, and Billy Collins and develop a second-term project. Details about his second-term project will be announced in late summer.
Herrera’s historic first term was noteworthy for his online project, “La Casa de Colores," which is comprised of two initiatives: “La Familia,” a submission-based epic poem asking for the participation of the general public, and “El Jardín,” a series chronicling his experiences exploring and interacting with the Library’s resources and collections.
The author of 30 books of poetry, novels for young adults and collections for children, Herrera’s most recent work is “Portraits of Hispanic American Heroes” (2014), a picture book showcasing inspiring Hispanic- and Latino-Americans, and “Notes on the Assemblage” (2015), a volume of poems.
Herrera was born in Fowler, California in 1948. As the son of migrant farm workers, Herrera moved around often, living in tents and trailers along the road in southern California, and attended school in a variety of small towns from San Francisco to San Diego. In 1972 he graduated from University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) with a Bachelor’s degree in Social Anthropology. He then attended Stanford University, where he received a Master’s degree in Social Anthropology, and in 1990 received a Master’s of Fine Arts degree at the University of Iowa Writer’s Workshop.
Herrera has written over a dozen poetry collections, including “Half the World in Light: New and Selected Poems” (2008), which received the National Book Critics Circle Award and the International Latino Book Award. He is also a celebrated young adult and children’s book author, whose honors include the Américas Award for both “Cinnamon Girl: Letters Found Inside a Cereal Box” (2005) and “Crashboomlove: A Novel in Verse” (1999), as well as the Independent Publisher Book Award for “Featherless / Desplumado” (2005), the Ezra Jack Keats Award for “Calling the Doves” (1995) and the Pura Belpré Author Honor Award for both “Portraits of Hispanic American Heroes” and “Laughing Out Loud, I Fly” (1990).
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, a PEN / Beyond Margins Award, and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, and the Stanford University Chicano Fellows. He is a recent recipient of an honorary doctorate from Skidmore College.
Herrera has served as the Chair of the Chicano and Latin American Studies Department at California State University, Fresno and held the Tomas Rivera Endowed Chair in the Creative Writing Department at the University of California, Riverside, where he taught until retiring in 2015. He is currently a visiting professor in the Department of American Ethnic Studies at the University of Washington-Seattle. Elected a Chancellor for the Academy of American Poets in 2011, he served as the Poet Laureate of California from 2012-2015.
The Library of Congress’ Poetry and Literature Center is the home of the Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry, a position that has existed since 1936, when Archer M. Huntington endowed the Chair of Poetry at the Library. Since then, many of the nation’s most eminent poets have served as Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress and, after the passage of Public Law 99-194 (Dec. 20, 1985), as Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry. The Poet Laureate suggests authors to read in the Library’s literary series and plans other special events during the literary season. For more information, visit loc.gov/poetry/.
The Library of Congress, the largest library in the world, holds 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 loc.gov.