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Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera UCSB 2/1

January 31, 2016


The 2015-2016 U.S. Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera heads to UC Santa Barbara Mon. Feb 1 for a FREE reading at Campbell Hall at 7:30pm. A performance poet and a children’s book author as well as a poet of the page, this will be a remarkable evening for those who love and appreciate poetry. For those who have their doubts, it will be eye-opening: this is likely NOT the poetry you were taught in school.

Let Me Tell You What a Poem Brings


for Charles Fishman

Before you go further,
let me tell you what a poem brings,
first, you must know the secret, there is no poem
to speak of, it is a way to attain a life without boundaries,
yes, it is that easy, a poem, imagine me telling you this,
instead of going day by day against the razors, well,
the judgments, all the tick-tock bronze, a leather jacket
sizing you up, the fashion mall, for example, from
the outside you think you are being entertained,
when you enter, things change, you get caught by surprise,
your mouth goes sour, you get thirsty, your legs grow cold
standing still in the middle of a storm, a poem, of course,
is always open for business too, except, as you can see,
it isn’t exactly business that pulls your spirit into
the alarming waters, there you can bathe, you can play,
you can even join in on the gossip—the mist, that is,
the mist becomes central to your existence.

The first Latino to serve as United States Poet Laureate, Juan Felipe Herrera infuses his work with his Mexican heritage, California landscapes, and literary influences including Allen Ginsberg and Walt Whitman. The child of migrant workers, he grew up in California, and went on to study at UCLA, Stanford, and Iowa where he earned his MFA. He’s held two NEA fellowships and served as California’s Poet Laureate; his publications include the collections Notes on the Assemblage (2015) and the National Book Critics Circle Award finalist Half of the World in Light (2008). Books will be available for purchase and signing.

“A poem,” he promises, brings “a way to attain a life without boundaries.” All life, all art, involves boundaries, if only those of birth and death. Some poets keep us conscious of those boundaries; others, like Herrera, discover their powers by defying them.

The New York Times praises Herrera’s work  as “a new hybrid art, part oral, part written, part English, part something else: an art grounded in ethnic identity, fueled by collective pride, yet irreducibly individual”

According to Jennifer Benka, executive director of the Academy of American Poets, Herrera is “someone who believes that poetry can make a difference in people’s lives and communities.”

Below, “National Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera explains how a piece of paper can help you find calm in the middle of an overwhelming day:”‘

And finally, Herrera talks about his writing process and the art and craft of revision:

Presented by UCSB Arts & Lectures with support from the Departments of Chicana/o Studies, Spanish & Portuguese and Comparative Literature, the UCSB Library, the Chicano Studies Institute, the Office of the Executive Vice Chancellor and Associate Vice Chancellor for Diversity, Equity & Academic Policy, the Division of Humanities & Fine Arts, the College of Creative Studies and the Luis Leal Endowed Chair.

Discover what Juan Felipe Herrera has to bring YOU!


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