In celebration of National Poetry Month, we will be featuring a poem a day from our collection of City Lights Publications.
Juan Felipe Herrera is a poet, performer, writer, cartoonist, teacher, activist, and 2012 California Poet Laureate. Herrera’s publications include fourteen collections of poetry, including 187 Reasons Mexicanos Can’t Cross The Border published by City Lights, as well as prose, short stories, young adult novels and picture books for children. Herrera was awarded the 2008 National Book Critics Circle Award in Poetry for Half the World in Light.
The only son of María de la Luz (Lucha) Quintana and Felipe Emilio Herrera, the three were campesinos living from crop to crop, and from tractor to trailer to tents on the roads of the San Joaquín Valley, Southern California and the Salinas Valley. Herrera’s experiences as the child of migrant farmers have strongly shaped his work, such as the children’s book Calling the Doves, which won the Ezra Jack Keats Book Award in 1997. Community and art has always been part of what has driven Herrera, beginning in the mid-seventies, when he was director of the Centro Cultural de la Raza, an occupied water tank in Balboa Park that had been converted into an arts space for the community.