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Juan Felipe Herrera, the first Latino Poet Laureate of the United States and son of Mexican immigrants, grew up in the migrant fields of California.
Exuberant and socially engaged, reflective and healing, this collection of new work from the nation's first Latino Poet Laureate is brimming with the wide-open vision and hard-won wisdom of a poet whose life and creative arc have spanned chasms of culture in an endless crossing, dreaming and back again.
"Juan Felipe Herrera's family has gone from migrant worker to poet laureate of the United States in one generation. One generation. I am an adamant objector to the Horatio Alger myth of pulling oneself up by the bootstraps, but Herrera's story is one of epic American proportions. The heads carved into my own Mount Rushmás would be Cesar Chavez, Dolores Huerta, Frida Kahlo, El Chapulín Colorado, Selena, and Juan Felipe Herrera. Notes from the Assemblage further carves out Herrera's place in American letters."––David Tomas Martinez
"At home with field workers, wage slaves, the homeless, little children, old folks, artists, traditionalists, the avant-garde, students, scholars and prisoners, the bilingual Juan Felipe Herrera is the real thing: a populist treasure. He will fulfill his appointment as U.S. Poet Laureate with the same high energy, savvy, passion, compassion, commitment and playfulness that his art and life's have always embodied. Bravo! Bravo!"––Al Young
"While reporters can give you the what, when, and where of a war, a poet with the enormous gifts of Juan Herrera can give you its soul."––Ishmael Reed
"I am proud that Juan Felipe Herrera has been appointed U.S. Poet Laureate, bringing his truthful, beautiful voice to all of us universally. As the first Chicano Laureate, he will empower all diverse cultures."––Janice Mirikitani
"Herrera is . . . a sometimes hermetic, wildly inventive, always unpredictable poet, whose work commands attention for its style alone. . . 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."––The New York Times
"Herrera has the unusual capacity to write convincing political poems that are as personally felt as poems can be."—National Public Radio