Poetry Alive, Poetry Cafe, Juan Herrera

Wednesday, January 22, 5–6pm
Bellas Artes, Hernández Macías 75
$100 (donation)

Poetry Alive, Poetry Cafe, Juan Herrera

Poetry Alive! Celebrates Chicano Poet Juan Herrera

By Catherine Marenghi

Poetry Alive! is an annual celebration of the work of the distinguished poet scheduled to present a keynote address at the upcoming San Miguel Writers’ Conference (Feb. 12–16, 2020). The tradition of the reading in English and Spanish began with Billy Collins in 2017, followed by Rita Dove in 2018 and Jennifer Clement in 2019.

This year’s Poetry Alive! spotlights Juan Felipe Herrera, the former U.S. Poet Laureate whose work includes video, photography, theater, poetry, prose, and performance. He is a leading voice on the Mexican-American and indigenous experience.

Local performance and visual artists Anado McLauchlin and Tomás Joaquin Burkey, as well as writer Armida Zepeda, Spanish conference director of the San Miguel Writers’ Conference, will be featured performers of Mr. Herrera’s work in English and in Spanish.

Two Poetry Café board members, Lee Harris and Sallie Kravetz, have collaborated to produce an exciting video montage that highlights Mr. Herrera’s multi-faceted life and work.

In The New York Times, Stephen Burt wrote: “Many poets since the 1960s have dreamed of a new hybrid art, part oral, part written, part English, part something else: an art grounded in ethnic identity, fueled by collective pride, yet irreducibly individual too. Many poets have tried to create such an art: Herrera is one of the first to succeed.” (Source: Academy of American Poets)

Juan Felipe Herrera was the U.S. Poet Laureate from 2015 to 2017. His biography lists 21 distinguished awards including the National Book Critics Circle award for poetry and. L.A. Times Robert Kirsch Award for Lifetime Achievement. He is the author of 30 books including collections of poetry, prose, short stories, young adult novels and picture books for children. He served as Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets from 2011 to 2016.

Herrera is the son of migrant farmers and had an itinerant youth in the Central Valley of California. He began drawing cartoons while in middle school, and by high school was playing folk music by Bob Dylan and Woody Guthrie. He holds a master’s degree in social anthropology from Stanford, and an MFA from the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Over the past three decades, he has founded a number of performance ensembles, and has taught poetry, art, and performance in community art galleries and correctional facilities. He has taught at the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop and served as chair of the Chicano and Latin American Studies Department at CSU-Fresno.
Juan Herrera’s keynote address “Where are We Going, Now? — Poetry, Self & Power” will be on Saturday, Feb 15, 6:30 PM in the ballroom at Hotel Real de Minas. To purchase tickets, visit www.sanmiguelwritersconference.org.

Founded in January of 2016, Poetry Café Bellas Artes meets monthly, September through April. The all-volunteer community organization features local and visiting poets, both established and emerging, sharing original work in a casual setting.

Please arrive a few minutes early. Seating is first come, first seated.

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