187 Reasons Mexicanos Can't Cross The Border
187 Reasons Mexicanos Can't Cross The Border
Undocuments 1971-2007





"There Are at Least 187 Reasons to Read Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera"

"Juan Felipe Herrera's 187 Reasons Mexicans Can't Cross the Border: Undocuments 1971-2007 is meant to be political and personal, provocative and soothing, historical and imaginative. Covering 36 years of Herrera’s creative work, this book is as much a hybrid of genres, languages, and styles as it is a blend of Mexican-American cultures and identities. It asks the question of what it means to be Mexican as it also asks what it means to be American. The physical and cultural borders of ethnic identity explored in this work offer multiple representations of individual and collective Mexican-American identities. In particular, the selected poems can be a wonderful tool for helping provide a historical context for older students as they examine current immigration issues in the media."

- American Immigration Council

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."

Bloomsbury Review
"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."
–Ray González

Juan Felipe Herrera on Odeo
May 27, 2008
Hear Juan Felipe Herrera on Here on Earth: Radio Without Borders - Here on Earth: Radio Without Borders on Odeo

Valley native finds a national pulpit
Aug 18, 2008
"A poetic voice with deep roots in the central San Joaquin Valley recently received a national megaphone when two new books by Juan Felipe Herrera were reviewed in the New York Times." - Guy Keeler, The Fresno Bee

Apartment Heritage
Sep 21, 2008
"The apartment on 11th and C Street was a magical, two-sided box of amazing gifts.

In the sixties, while finishing middle school at Roosevelt Junior High, in San Diego, and during my first two years at San Diego High, Papa Felipe, Mama Lucha and I lived in that one-bedroom, facing the street. It was like all our other apartments – and not unlike our trailers, tarps and tents before that – with their thin walls, jalapeño-colored sheets speckled with starry holes, and giant, maple syrup-stained radios that buzzed, bopped and flickered songs all night long." - Juan Felipe Herrera, PaperTigers

An Interview with Juan Felipe Herrera
May 7, 2007
Juan Felipe Herrera is a well known Latino poet and the author of several dozen books. A number of these (listed below) are bilingual picture books and three are adolescent novels written in verse. In anticipation of the Cinco de Mayo holiday, Parents' Choice met with Herrera to discuss his work. - Jerry Griswold, Parents' Choice Foundation


Nov 15, 2007
Juan Felipe Herrera at City Lights Books



Juan Felipe Herrera, caught in the act of creating art on the sidewalk in front of City Lights Books at the 187 Express Tour launch on Nov 15, 2007.

Juan Felipe Herrera and Ky-Phong Tran Podcast
Jan 1, 2008
Scroll down to the podcast with Juan Felipe Herrera and author Ky-Phong Tran - KCET Online, Explore CA

Border Books
Feb 21, 2008
"[Juan Felipe] Herrera's book is a collection of his poetry, essays and reflections over 30 years of activism on behalf of border peoples, border generations, border languages." - Laila Lalami

Juan Felipe Hererra on raulsalinas
Feb 21, 2008
"Spoken word has its own cultural systems, canons, genres, institutions, actors and audiences which generate its values. Academic poetry, although related, is another cultural arena and another class sector. The less borders between these is best.

Another way to put is that Spoken Word by its very nature is public, oral, interactive, spontaneous, experimental and subversive. Because of these transgressive and explosive qualities, Spoken Word thrives at the margins. Otherwise, it would be more like its fair-haired cousin, text-centered academic poetry, which lives closer to the center of the literary capitalist paradigm, more or less. The problem arises when poets begin to quote themselves and cease to speak and also, as you say, loose touch with the larger world of conversations and silences."
—Juan Felipe Herrera - Lisa Alvarado, La Bloga

Author calls for border reform
Apr 11, 2008

"An author and performer told a crowd of University of Wisconsin students Thursday understanding Mexican border crossers' struggle may be the way to find a solution to the hotly debated immigration and border security issues.

Juan Felipe Herrera, an author, performer, poet and teacher, spoke at Helmsley Theatre about the plight faced by Latin Americans crossing the United States border."

- Chip Krachmer, The Badger Herald

Dangerous Populism
Nov 19, 2007
"Mr. Lou Dobbs represents a tired attempt to speak for the 'people.' Of course, he is at the soft front of the larger and more hardened 'Populist' cadre, such as the Minutemen and other buttoned-up ideological militias. What is pernicious about this 'fluffy' media point of view, this paternal figure that fans its winks and smiles into our living rooms, is that it owns a cool cosmopolitanism, a keen double-standard." - Juan Felipe Herrera, The Latino American Experience Blog

Spoken Word, Borders and Juan Felipe Herrera
Nov 29, 2007
"Congress debates immigration legislation, Americans grow more polarized in their opinions, and Juan Felipe Herrera provides a fresh and accessible perspective on this crucial human rights issue through this collection of his poetry, prose, and performance." - La Bloga

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."
—Josh Kun

Activist Poetry That Won't Make You Run the Other Way
Mar 10, 2008
Rigoberto González on Juan Felipe Herrera. - Rigoberto González, Poetry Foundation

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."
—Rigoberto González

Library Journal
"'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."
—Louis McKee

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