Juan Felipe Herrera


Born
in Fowler, California, The United States
December 27, 1948

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Juan Felipe Herrera is the only son of Lucha Quintana and Felipe Emilio Herrera; the three were campesinos living from crop to crop 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 award in 1997. He is a poet, performer, writer, cartoonist, teacher, and activist who draws from real life experiences as well as years of education to inform his work. 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 converted ...more

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“Your friends, and your associates, and the people around you, and the environment that you live in, and the speakers around you - the speakers around you - and the communicators around you, are the poetry makers.
If your mother tells you stories, she is a poetry maker.
If your father says stories, he is a poetry maker.
If your grandma tells you stories, she is a poetry maker.
And that’s who forms our poetics.”
Juan Felipe Herrera

“Let Us Gather In A Flourishing Way

Let us gather in a flourishing way
opening with sun light grains songs
we carry every day
I pasture the young body
happy to give and give pearls pearls
of corn flowing tree of life at the four corners
let us gather in a flourishing way
happy life full of strength to
giving birth to fragrant rivers
Fresh sweet green turquoise strong
rainbows flesh of our children
let us gather in a flourishing way
in the light and in the flesh of our heart to toil
quiet in fields of blossoms
together to stretch the arms
With the quiet rain in the morning
Early on our forehead star
Heat sky and wisdom to meet us
Where we toil always
in the garden of our Struggle and joy
let us offer our hearts to greet our eagle rising
freedom
woven branches celebrate arms branches
nopales stones feathers bursting piercing
figs and avocados
Butterfly ripe fields and clear seas
of our face
to breathe all the way in blessing
to give seeds to grow maiztlán
in the hands of our love.”
Juan Felipe Herrera, Half of the World in Light: New and Selected Poems

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