Juan Felipe Herrera Appointed as 21st U.S. Poet Laureate

Gary Kazanjian/The New York Times
Gary Kazanjian/The New York Times

Juan Felipe Herrera has been appointed the 21st Poet Laureate of the United States for 2015-2016!

Forthcoming from City Lights this September will be Herrera’s new collection of poems titled Notes on the Assemblage.

Herrera, who succeeds Charles Wright as Poet Laureate, said of the appointment, “This is a mega-honor for me, for my family and my parents who came up north before and after the Mexican Revolution of 1910—the honor is bigger than me. I want to take everything I have in me, weave it, merge it with the beauty that is in the Library of Congress, all the resources, the guidance of the staff and departments, and launch it with the heart-shaped dreams of the people. It is a miracle of many of us coming together.”

Lots of media around the country and beyond announced the big news – here’s most of it:

New York Times
“Juan Felipe Herrera, From Farm Fields to Poet Laureate” – announcement of appointment as Poet Laureate with 3 poems, 1 from Notes on the Assemblage

“Juan Felipe Herrera, Poet Laureate With a Working-Class Voice Meant to Be Spoken” – another profile of Herrera.

NPR’s The Two Way
“Juan Felipe Herrera Named U.S. Poet Laureate” – interview

Los Angeles Times
“Juan Felipe Herrera new U.S. poet laureate: ‘Shout it from the roof tops'” – profile of Herrera and reaction to his appointment

PBS NewsHour
“From the fields to the Library of Congress, Juan Felipe Herrera took a winding path to poetry” – interview and video

On Point Radio (WBUR – Boston)
“A Poet Laureate’s Life: Juan Felipe Herrera” – radio interview with Herrera

The Guardian
“US poet laureate Juan Felipe Herrera: ‘Poetry is one of the most beautiful ways of participating'” – interview and profile

Herrera joins a long line of distinguished poets who have served in the position, including Natasha Trethewey, Philip Levine, W. S. Merwin, Kay Ryan, Charles Simic, Donald Hall, Ted Kooser, Louise Glück, Billy Collins, Stanley Kunitz, Robert Pinsky, Robert Hass and Rita Dove.

The new Poet Laureate is the author of 28 books of poetry, novels for young adults and collections for children, most recently Portraits of Hispanic American Heroes (2014), a picture book showcasing inspirational Hispanic and Latino Americans. His most recent book of poems is Senegal Taxi (University of Arizona Press, 2013).

A new book of poems from Juan Felipe Herrera titled Notes on the Assemblage is forthcoming from City Lights Publishers in September 2015. He is the author of two previous City Lights books including 187 Reasons Mexicanos Can’t Cross the Border: Undocuments 1971-2007, selected works spanning 35 years of writing in various genres that won the PEN West Poetry Award and the PEN Oakland National Literary Award, and Lotería Cards and Fortune Poems: A Book of Lives, a collaborative project with artist Artemio Rodríguez that adapts the imagery of la lotería, a popular folkloric game of chance that originated in 18th-century colonial Mexico.


In 2012, Herrera was named California’s poet laureate. He has won the Hungry Mind Award of Distinction, the Focal Award, two Latino Hall of Fame Poetry Awards, and a PEN West Poetry Award. His honors include the UC Berkeley Regent’s Fellowship as well as fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, and the Stanford Chicano Fellows. He has also received several grants from the California Arts Council.

Heartfelt congratulations to Juan Felipe Herrera for this prestigious honor! We are so excited for the next year of poetry in the United States!

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