Juan Felipe Herrera Is California's First Latino Poet Laureate

Meet California's First Latino Poet Laureate

This week, California native and renowned Chicano poet Juan Felipe Herrera was appointed to the post of California Poet Laureate by Governor Jerry Brown. He is the first Latino to hold the position.

According to the California Arts Council, the mission of the California Poet Laureate is to “advocate for the art of poetry in classrooms and boardrooms across the state.” It is a task Herrera has devoted much of his life to.

The author of 28 books, including bilingual children’s books and poetry volumes like the award-winning “Half of the World in Light: New and Selected Poems,” Herrera currently teaches at the University of California, Riverside and serves as the Tomas Rivera Endowed Chair in the Department of Creative Writing.

Herrera tells the university’s student paper, UCR Today that, “This award is for all the young writers who want to put kindness inside every word throughout the state, because kindness is the heart of creativity.”

Born in California’s Central Valley, Herrera is the only son of Mexican migrant farmers. He received his Bachelor of Arts in Social Anthropology at the University of California, Los Angeles, his Master of Arts in Social Anthropology at Stanford, and a Master of Fine Arts from the University of Iowa.

Herrera was not immediately available for comment.

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