Juan Felipe Herrera, the first Latino to be named poet laureate by the Library of Congress, will be welcomed to the San Antonio poetry community at an invitation-only event on Tuesday, Nov. 3.

The Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center and Gallery, Palo Alto College, and Gemini Ink, along with support from the City of San Antonio Department of Culture and Creative Development, are hosting an intimate cocktail party from 6:30-8:30 p.m. with the California writer.

Born to migrant farm workers in 1948, Herrera studied at the University of California, Los Angeles and Stanford University before receiving an MFA from the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop.

Juan Felipe Herrera is Professor Emeritus in the Department of Creative Writing at the University of California Riverside. Photo courtesy of UC Riverside.
Juan Felipe Herrera is Professor Emeritus in the Department of Creative Writing at the University of California Riverside. Photo courtesy of UC Riverside.

Like Allen Ginsberg, Pablo Neruda, Walt Whitman, and other great poets, Herrera writes lists – and then composes those lists into poetry. “187 Reasons Mexicanos Can’t Cross the Border,” released in 2007, contains 36 years of rants, manifestos, anti-lectures, and love poems.

Half of the World in Light,” released the following year, continues the documentation of the experiences of a citizen of a Chicano Nation. “Notes on the Assemblage,” released in September, spans borders and generalizations.

The hand of Herrera has been so prolific, there is speculation about how many books he has written. Considering his poetry collections, his novels in verse, and his children’s books, he has written 28 books, or maybe 30 books, depending if you want to believe the Library of Congress or the Los Angeles Review of Books.

No doubt, Herrera will have more than a few words to say as he enthralls San Antonio’s poets and publishers, activists and artists, on Nov. 3. Stay tuned to the Rivard Report for a review of his recent recantations.

Herrera will also appear at Palo Alto College on Nov. 4 as part of Heritage Month. Visit the college’s website for details.

*Top image: Juan Felipe Herrera was Poet Laureate of California before his national appointment by the Library of Congress. Photo by Carlos Puma for UC Riverside.

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Don Mathis

Don Mathis

Don’s life revolves around the many poetry circles in San Antonio. His poems have been published in many anthologies and periodicals and broadcasted on local TV and national radio. In addition to poetry,...