Juan Felipe Herrera Reading

February 22, 2017 - 8:00pm
Dey House

U.S. Poet Laureate and Writers' Workshop alumnus Juan Felipe Herrera will give a reading in the Frank Conroy Reading Room on Wednesday, February 22, at 8pm.

In 2015 Juan Felipe Herrera was appointed the 21st United States Poet Laureate, the first Mexican American to hold the position. In his statement of choice, Librarian of Congress James H. Billington said Herrara’s poems “contain Whitman-esque multitudes that champion voices, traditions and histories, as well as a cultural perspective” that serve to illuminate our larger American identity. Herrera grew up in California as the son to migrant farmers, which he has commented strongly shaped much of his work. A Washington Post article tells the story that “As a child, Herrera learned to love poetry by singing about the Mexican Revolution with his mother, a migrant farmworker in California. Inspired by her spirit, he has spent his life crossing borders, erasing boundaries and expanding the American chorus.”

Herrera is the author of thirty books, including collections of poetry, prose, short stories, young adult novels and picture books for children. His collections of poetry include Notes of the Assemblage (City Lights, 2015), Senegal Taxi (University of Arizona, 2013); Half of the World in Light: New and Selected Poems (2008), a recipient of the PEN/Beyond Margins Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award; 187 Reasons Mexicanos Can’t Cross The Border: Undocuments 1971-2007 (City Lights, 2007); and Crashboomlove: A Novel in Verse (University of New Mexico, 1999), which received the Americas Award.

The Boston Review wrote about Notes on the Assemblage, saying “U.S. Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera appeals to Americans and artists. Herrera’s forceful poetry speaks directly and powerfully, like the address of a leader rousing his battalions to action…he forces us to confront society and its paradoxes. His summons links unadorned, unforgiving description with figurative language….Herrera also obliterates the passive relationship between a work of art and its observer. He is intimately concerned with what art does, ‘it follows you passes you dissolves ahead of you where / it is waiting for you when you get there you will not / know it until you see that it is seeing you seeing you.’ The stakes of this engagement for our communal body are viscerally felt: ‘we are not what we thought—it is / not who we were or / what we want to be.’”

Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all University of Iowa-sponsored events. If you are a person with a disability who requires a reasonable accommodation in order to participate in this program, please contact the Writers’ Workshop in advance at (319) 335-0416.