Juan Felipe Herrera named California Poet Laureate (Video)
University of California, Riverside poetry professor Juan Felipe Herrera — known for chronicling the bittersweet lives, travails and contributions of Mexican Americans — was named California Poet Laureate by Gov. Jerry Brown today. The two-year appointment must be confirmed by the state Senate.
Herrera, 63, the son of migrant farm workers, holds the Tomás Rivera Chair in Creative Writing at UC Riverside. He joined the UCR faculty in 2005.
The award-winning Chicano poet said he was touched by the honor and acknowledged the influence of Tomás Rivera, a noted Chicano author, poet and educator who served as UCR’s chancellor from 1979 until his death in 1984.
“I want to thank UC Riverside for such a great community of support,” Herrera said. “All the students here inspire me greatly. 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.
I also want to acknowledge the great work of Tomás Rivera. He has been a leading light in the world of poetry for all the young people in the boys’ clubs, the girls’ clubs, the soccer fields and in every K-12 classroom – every young person with a pencil or a laptop or chalk and hip-hop on their minds. This is for the full and total expression of all of the people of this great state.”
Herrera said he especially wanted to thank and acknowledge UCR leaders for support, particularly Chancellor Timothy P. White; College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences Dean Stephen Cullenberg; and creative writing department Chair Andrew Winer.
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