187 Reasons Mexicanos Can't Cross The Border
New York Times Book Review
"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."
"187 Reasons Mexicanos Can't Cross the Border is more than an explosive, majestic book of selected poems that gathers Herrera's writings on immigration and border issues. It is a 360-page manifesto that offers barbed-wire cures and 187 ways to dig tunnels, cross deserts, and finish long days of hard work in a country that insists on punishing its cheap labor force . . . 'Blood on the Wheel' is a great American poem that should be studied alongside Allen Ginsberg's Howl . . . 187 Reasons Mexicanos Can't Cross the Border is a major accomplishment in an era when immigration issues are being mangled by politicians in denial."
Los Angeles Times
"[Herrera] writes with a Beat-like torrent of sling-shots and trippy hallucination, equally at home watching Chicanos in 'Toyota gangsta monsters' with 'oye como va in the engines' as he is imagining himself a punk half-panther. More than once in 187 Reasons, his poems read like border-blasted takes on Allen Ginsberg's epic American spew, Howl. Except Herrera's America is a 'grid of inverted serapes' where the best minds of his generated—angel-headed hipsters in Indian drum circles high on Thelonious Monk and flush with 'a Califas glow'—have been driven mad by the Minutemen, Proposition 187 and miles of new border fencing."
El Paso Times
"Herrera's poetics and politics are constantly on the go, energizing each page of this extraordinary Floricanto, where power and poetry meet."
"'You build the fence we climb the fence/ You hammer it up we rock it down/ You draw the line we erase the line.' As the debate over immigration policy burns hotter and Americans across the nation are brought into the discussion, artist/activist Herrera provides a fresh, smart, and witty perspective on this human rights issue through this collection of his poetry and prose. Herrera is well known for his more than 30 years of public readings and performances and has been a major voice of witness and conscience in the Chicano community, asserting its dreams and decrying its nightmares. Essentially a manifesto, these writings are first and foremost maps to a safe place, ways across various and dubious borders, epic journeys that include descents into hell. Herrera goes beyond the easy rhetoric and self-righteous passions, giving us what are, in fact, affirmations—or momentary stays against the confusion: 'You play baseball we play baseball/ You watch Oprah we watch Oprah/ You shop at Costco we shop at Costco…You have a family we have a familia.' Vital for any Chicano or immigration collection, this would be an asset to contemporary literature collections as well. Highly recommended."
Jackson Free Press
"Juan Felipe Herrera is one of the preeminent voices in 20th-century Chicano poetry. Since the early 1970s, he’s devoted his multimedia work to challenging the notions of what it is to be a Mexican American. His poetry and prose is both provocative and experimental, possessing a drive that can only come from the revolutionist’s heart. And Herrera’s heart is devoted to busting traditional literary forms out of their tightly synched seams, giving voice to a people so often left voiceless by American culture and its insular tendencies…“187 Reasons” is not a staid anthology. Rather, it invigorates as a hybrid scrapbook/journal/log of emotional and physical borders; psychological connections to time and space; diverse voices and the mottled songs they produce; delicately crocheted genetic connections to the Mexican patria and political barriers imposed on Chicanos…His collection is a journey of the soul, race and identity, power and struggle. And at times, even an expedition ending in cultural exultation. You don’t need 187 reasons to open Herrera’s book; one—the compelling truth."
—Brandi Herrera Pfrehm