State Senate Honors Juan Felipe Herrera, U.S. Poet Laureate

Monday, July 6, 2015

Sacramento, CA – Today, Senator Ben Allen (D – Santa Monica) and the California State Senate paid tribute to the newly appointed U.S. Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera.  At a special ceremony on the Senate Floor, Mr. Herrera was introduced by Senator Allen, the chair of the Joint Committee on the Arts, and recited two of his original poems.

On June 10, 2015, the Librarian of Congress chose Mr. Herrera, a native son of California and the son of Mexican migrant workers, to serve our nation as the next United States Poet Laureate – the nation’s highest honor in poetry.  Mr. Herrera served with distinction and passion as the state of California’s Poet Laureate from 2012 to 2014.

“Through his lifelong dedication to using the power of words to teach and inspire us, Mr. Herrera has encouraged others to find their own voices,” Senator Allen said.  “We are so pleased to celebrate his extraordinary life of achievement, and we applaud him as he takes on the high honor of serving as U.S. Poet Laureate.”

A distinguished and inspiring writer, Mr. Herrera will be the nation’s first Latino Poet Laureate since the position was created in 1936 when he assumes his official role in September.

As a child, Mr. Herrera’s migrant family moved often, so that they could work. After graduating from San Diego High School in 1967, Mr. Herrera continued his education, graduating from UCLA which was then followed by graduate degrees from both Stanford and the University of Iowa. He recently retired as a creative writing professor at the University of Riverside and is currently a visiting professor at the University of Washington.

Mr. Herrera has said that it was through the arts in middle school that he found his own voice.  Mr. Herrera’s biography highlights the fact that his early arts grants were from the California Arts Council in the 1970’s and 80’s.

Mr. Herrera has received numerous past honors and awards.  These include the Guggenheim Fellowship, the National Book Critic’s Circle Award, the PEN USA award, the Latino International Award, and many more.  He has written more than 28 books of poetry as well as novels for young adults and books for children. A father of five, he has a special passion for helping children express themselves.

To view Senator Allen’s remarks:  http://youtu.be/x9zWv0ewKOc

To view Senator De León’s remarks:  http://youtu.be/Cdhk8-jkFCQ

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