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The Library of Congress > Poetry & Literature > Poet Laureate > More About Juan Felipe Herrera
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Juan Felipe HerreraJuan Felipe Herrera, U.S. Poet Laureate, 2015- 
Photo credit: Blue Flower Arts

Juan Felipe Herrera was born in Fowler, California in 1948. He is the author of 30 books of poetry, novels for young adults, and collections for children, including “Half the World in Light: New and Selected Poems" (2008), winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award and the International Latino Book Award. His other honors include fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, two Latino Hall of Fame Poetry Awards, and a PEN / Beyond Margins Award. Elected a Chancellor for the Academy of American Poets in 2011, Herrera served as the Poet Laureate of California from 2012-2015. In 2016, he was awarded the Robert Kirsch Award for lifetime achievement at the 36th L.A. Times Book Prizes.

Herrera received a Bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), a Master’s degree in Social Anthropology from Stanford University, and a Master’s of Fine Arts degree at the University of Iowa Writer’s Workshop. He published his first collection of poems, Rebozos of Love, in 1974. His subsequent poetry collections include the following:

  • Exiles of Desire (1985)
  • Facegames (1987)
  • Akrílica (1989)
  • The Roots of a Thousand Embraces: Dialogues (1994)
  • Night Train to Tuxtla: New Stories and Poems (1994)
  • Love After the Riots (1996)
  • Border-Crosser with a Lamborghini Dream (1999)
  • Lotería Cards & Fortune Poems (1999)
  • Thunderweavers (2000)
  • Giraffe on Fire: Poems (2001)
  • Notebooks of a Chile Verde Smuggler (2002)
  • 187 Reasons Mexicanos Can’t Cross The Border, Undocuments 1971-2007 (2007)
  • Half of the World in Light: New and Selected Poems (2008)
  • Senegal Taxi (2013)
  • Notes on the Assemblage (2015)

Herrera has also published 11 books of young adult and children’s books, including most recently Portraits of Hispanic American Heroes (2014), a picture book showcasing inspiring Hispanic and Latino Americans.

Herrera’s other major honors include a PEN USA National Poetry Award and the PEN Oakland / Josephine Miles Award as well as two Américas Awards; two Pura Belpré Author Honor Awards; the Independent Publisher Book Award; the Ezra Jack Keats Award; and fellowships from the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference and the Stanford University Chicano Fellows.

Herrera has served as the Chair of the Chicano and Latin American Studies Department at California State University Fresno and held the Tomás Rivera Endowed Chair in the Creative Writing Department at the University of California, Riverside, where he taught until retiring in 2015. A visiting professor in the Department of American Ethnic Studies at the University of Washington-Seattle in 2015, he lives in Fresno, CA.

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