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The Library of Congress > Poetry & Literature > La Casa de Colores > La Familia (The Family)
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La Casa de Colores, Hosted by Juan Felipe Herrera, U.S. Poet Laureate, 2015-

Welcome to La Familia (The Family)! La Familia is an epic poem of all our voices and styles and experiences that will run the span of my Laureateship. By contributing to La Familia, you will be part of my family—and all our words will be seen and our voices be heard, throughout the nation and beyond.

La Familia’s Themes and Respective Poems:

September 15 - October 14: "Family Words and Story Poems"

This month’s contributors were asked to submit up to 200 characters about family as they saw it, as they experienced it.  The focus was on family in any form: one’s immediate family, the family of one’s dreams, the family of friends, or a family that only lasts seconds.  Writers were asked to use “family words” and to bring new words into this month's family of words. Read segment one

October 15 - November 14: "Migrants: Portraits and Friendships"

Every inch of this land is woven with migrant trails. These are pathways from family to family, country to country, and most of all heart to heart. For this month, find a trail and travel through it to a new dream. What do you see in your travels? And how do you make friends along the way? Describe for me in the language of poetry—migrate into new words, use new landscapes of images. Read segment two

November 15 - December 14: "Language Weavers"

We all speak in different languages. We connect the words of our ancestors, our home and world through our voices. For this month, I want you to weave in and out of two or more languages—weave together the language of your new home, your homeland, the way you speak to your grandmother, your banter with friends on the court or field, or just everyday lingo of "¿Qué Pasa? What’s Happening?" Or link up critical news reportage, Hip-Hop, and the high words of prayer into one powerful Colores statement or description. Let your language colors flow, so we can all grow and glo'! Read segment three

December 15 - January 14: "What Peace Can Bring"

Everyone of us loves peace: peace of mind, peace of heart and—in one way or another—“peace on earth.” Every one of us has a unique way of thinking and feeling about peace. The word “peace” itself includes a set of actions of what it can do for us and for others, for all beings. Tell us about your kind of peace. Write a poem with your list of things that will happen if we attain peace. Use Anaphora (repetition), use clear images too so we can see your kind of peace, so we can taste it too and feel it—and perhaps together we can put our peace into action in these troubled times. I’ll be waiting for you. Read segment four

January 15 - February 14: "Thank-You Poems to Our Vets"

In conjunction with the Library’s Veteran’s History Project, I want to focus on thanking our veterans. A poem is a way to speak person-to-person, and say so much in a few words. Write to a friend or loved one, or to one of the veterans in our project, and tell them why their service is so important to you. Give them something specific—an image, a metaphor, a phrase that says it all—so they can see that thanks, and join the chorus of our La Familia contributors honoring our servicemen and women. Read segment five

February 15 - March 14: "My Democracy"

People are marching. Their painted cardboard signs push toward the rough sky. Their songs, raw and sweet, move thousands. "Time is of essence—it is an emergency," their songs say. "Life, children, homes and families are waiting," they chant, "We shall not be moved." Everything is at stake. "We want a different kind of society!" they scream. "This is our democracy, our voice must be heard," they say as they move along with difficulty and hope. Read segment six

March 15 - April 14: "World Unity Tortillas"

It took thousands of years to cultivate corn from a tiny weed smaller than your pinky to ten-foot stalks that can yield ears in five colors: yellow, white, red, blue, and speckled purple. Now these colors go all around the world, in countless forms. Ten years ago I wrote a poem “How to Make World Unity Salsa”—now it’s your turn: make a poetry tortilla for my salsa. In your poem, describe what the tortilla looks like, how you make it, and what other ingredients are inside. Fill it with beautiful images, symbols, and metaphors that make unity spicy and tasty. Read segment seven