Breaking news: Juan Felipe Herrera Receives PEN West Poetry Award and the PEN Oakland National Literary Award for 2008!
For his collection of verse spanning over three decades, 187 Reasons Mexicanos Can't Cross the Border, Juan Felipe Herrera has been awarded this year's PEN West award for outstanding poetry. City Lights congratulates the "wildly inventive" (New York Times) Juan Felipe!
Juan Felipe Herrera's writings are charged with theatrical and athletic energies. A hybrid collection of texts written and performed on the road, gathered from more than thirty-five years of work in various genres, these "undocuments" are the record of an epic journey across many different borders: boundaries of nations, state lines, city limits, edges of farmland, crossings and mixtures of languages and literary forms.
From Mexico City to San Francisco, from Central America to central California, Herrera remembers everything and gives back to his native places and to the family, friends and compañeros of his Mexican/American/Chicano odyssey a scrapbook, a logbook, a journal, a multiform confession of proud hybridity and indigenous optimism. A sustained manifesto of resistance and affirmation, these rants, manifestos, newspaper cut-ups, bits of street theatre, anti-lectures, love poems and riffs tell the story of what it's like to live outlaw and brown in the United States.
Illustrated throughout with photos and artwork.
"Papers? Permits? Documents? Identification? Open this book anywhere and find the authorization to keep on, permission to be who you are in your own skin, license to cultivate your inner guerrilla, angelic visas of transcendent transit. This book is the passport to a country under construction." — from the Introduction by Stephen Kessler
Juan Felipe Herrera is Professor of Creative Writing at the University of California, Riverside. Author of 21 books, he is also a community arts leader and a dynamic performer and actor. He is the son of Mexican immigrants and grew up in the migrant fields of California.
Listen to an interview with Juan Felipe Herrera here
Praise for 187 Reasons Mexicanos Can't Cross The Border:
"¡Por fin! A manifesto you can dance to. Juan Felipe Herrera's searing laments and soulful riffs don't just electrify. They Mexify."—Stephanie Elizondo Griest, author of Around the Bloc: My Life in Moscow, Beijing, and Havana
"I've been reading Juan Felipe Herrera since he was little baby poet in the 1970s, and this volume, which collects published and unpublished community pieces from the last three decades, gives me an almost painful pleasure. He is the eternal teen poet, the timeless Beat, the premodern postmodern. He is Walt Whitman, Ezekiel, Pablo Neruda, Langston Hughes, Scheherazade, Carlos Fuentes, Allen Ginsberg, Frida Kahlo, Groucho and Karl Marx, Emily Dickinson, Santana, Lao Tzu, and Octavio Paz rolled up and squeezed through dreams of Aztlan and justice and jazz. He is Floricanto. And 187 Reasons, more than anything he has written, is his autobiography."—Tom Lutz, author of Doing Nothing, Crying, and Cosmopolitan Vistas
"Juan Felipe Herrera has written a giant verbal mural bursting with the inventiveness, rhythmic colorings, social engagement and humor — in forms of poetry, litany, and autobiography — that reveal not only the greatness but the absolute necessity of Chicano culture. This is a major generational work by a brilliant practitioner of the art of living the word."—Jack Hirschman, poet laureate of the City of San Francisco
"There are at least 187 reasons why you should read Herrera's 187 Reasons Mexicanos Can't Cross the Border. A very abbreviated list would include: Because it is some of the strongest poetry, memoir, satire, and theater that you will find in one book- Because within it are over forty years of artfully recorded passion, anger, engagement, humor and love- Because it will carry you across, over and through languages, borders, and cultures revealing truths, asking hard questions, and insisting we see the power not only on of writer as witness, and the power of writer as memory, but the power of writer as conscious revolutionary striving towards a more just and humane world- Because it is a pleasure that will awaken and engage all of your senses as it touches and does not let go of your heart."– devorah major author of Brown Glass Windows, Open Weave, street smarts and Where River Meets Ocean.
"Aware, phosphorescent and immediate, this is language brilliantly engaged. Juan Felipe Herrera is simultaneous lighthouse and lightning, the flash that carries the warning and the live wire. For three decades now Herrera’s hot-colored Surrealism has transmitted one of the strongest border radio signals of alt-poetics from the Mission District to St. Mark’s Poetry Project, from the Taos Poetry Circus to Bisbee, from the first Floricantos of the Bay Area or cross-border exchanges in Tijuana and D.F., Chiapas and Yucatan to San Diego, L. A., Austin and beyond. This poetics makes a practice of making a difference. Here available together for the first time are wide-ranging selections from dozens of Herrera’s outstanding 'experimental’ mixed-genre books, many of which had eccentric or limited original distribution. Contextualized with photos, historical notes and chronology, 187 Reasons serves up both continental panorama and meta-document in the practice of a poetics that comes alive with startling vitality---across borders of political silence and censorship of the Other, semiotic deserts and actual killing fields."– Sesshu Foster author of Atomik Aztex and American Loneliness: Selected Poems