Juan Felipe Herrera has been named as the 21st Poet Laureate of the United States in an announced appointment by James H. Billington, the Librarian of Congress. Herrera’s term will take place from 2015 to 2016. (GalleyCat)
A poet of Chicano descent, the 66-year-old has spent just about his whole life on the West Coast. Born to a family of migrant farmworkers, Herrera bounced from tent to trailer for much of his youth in Southern California, eventually studying at UCLA and Stanford.
Herrera will succeed current Poet Laureate Charles Wright. Herrera is the poet who wrote “Border-Crosser With A Lamborghini Dream” and “187 Reasons Mexicanos Can’t Cross The Border,” among many other poems. (NYT)
The laureate position involves crafting poetry projects and broadening the audience for poetry. The 2013-2014 poet laureate, Natasha Trethewey, launched a series of reports from locations nationwide for a PBS NewsHour poetry series to explore societal issues. (HuffPost / AP)
Dating back to the 1300’s in Italy where the first poet laureates were named, over a dozen countries continue the poet laureate tradition today. The first U.S. poet laureate was Joseph Auslander. Ten U.S. states also name their own poets laureate.