Juan Felipe Herrera, Current Poet Laureate
The Poetry and Literature Center at the Library of Congress
Librarian of Congress James H. Billington appointed Juan Felipe Herrera as the Library’s 21st Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry on June 10, 2015, and on April 13, 2016, Acting Librarian of Congress David Mao appointed Herrera to serve a second term.
Juan Felipe Herrera was born in Fowler, California in 1948. He is the author of 28 books of poetry, novels for young adults, and collections for children, including “Half the World in Light: New and Selected Poems" (2008), winner of National Book Critics Circle Award and the International Latino Book Award. His other honors include fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, two Latino Hall of Fame Poetry Awards, and a PEN / Beyond Margins Award. Elected a Chancellor for the Academy of American Poets in 2011, Herrera served as the Poet Laureate of California from 2012-2015. In 2016, he was awarded the Robert Kirsch Award for lifetime achievement at the 36th L.A. Times Book Prizes.
- "The Technicolor Adventures of Catalina Neon": Juan Felipe Herrera's Second-Term Poet Laureate Project
- "La Casa de Colores": Juan Felipe Herrera's First Term-Poet Laureate Project
- View Web Guide on Juan Felipe Herrera
- Read News Release on Juan Felipe Herrera’s Reappointment (04/15/2016)
“I see in Herrera’s poems the work of an American original—work that takes the sublimity and largesse of “Leaves of Grass” and expands upon it,” Billington said. “His poems engage in a serious sense of play—in language and in image—that I feel gives them enduring power. I see how they champion voices and traditions and histories, as well as a cultural perspective, which is a vital part of our larger American identity.”
On being appointed to serve a second term, Herrera, who is the first Hispanic poet to serve in the position, said, "Deep gratitude and great joy, and many thank-you’s to the Library. I look forward to continuing my first year’s momentum and sharing the inspiration tsunami given to me in every community that I visit throughout the U.S.A. as Laureate."
Herrera succeeds Charles Wright as Poet Laureate and joins a long line of distinguished poets who have served in the position including Natasha Trethewey, Philip Levine, W. S. Merwin, Kay Ryan, Charles Simic, Donald Hall, Ted Kooser, Louise Glück, Billy Collins, Stanley Kunitz, Robert Pinsky, Robert Hass, and Rita Dove.