Poetry Man

The 21st U.S. Poet Laureate visits SCU.

Poetry Man
View full image. Photo by Joanne Lee
The 21st U.S. Poet Laureate visits SCU.

Poet Laureate of the United States Juan Felipe Herrera was back in familiar territory on April 4: on the Mission Campus, meeting with students and scholars and delivering a talk in verse and prose on “Immigration, Migration & the Alien Thing.” Herrera first came to Santa Clara in the 1960s and struck up a friendship with Francisco Jiménez ’66—“one of my great mentors who helped me out at the very beginning,” he said. Herrera read verse in English and Spanish, the stuff of community and compassion, and some call and response—including “187 Reasons Mexicanos Can’t Cross the Border.” He laughed, he danced, and Jiménez fielded questions from the audience. He shared that the day he got the call from the librarian of Congress, Dr. James Billington asking him to be poet laureate, he thought it was a prank. His advice to young writers? “Begin at one, or at zero, and then move on little by little,” he said. “If our grandparents could make it to the U.S. on absolutely nothing, then we can write. They were pioneers, now we can be pioneers, with our words.” Herrera is the 21st U.S. Poet Laureate and the first Mexican American to receive the national honor. This year he was appointed to a second term.

Read more about what happened at the event, plus catch the video of the entire evening in Mayer Theatre here.

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