Lenoir-Rhyne University's Visiting Writers Series will present Juan Felipe Herrera on Thursday, Nov. 15, at 7 p.m. in Grace Chapel. This event will be hosted in partnership with Centro Latino of Hickory and LR's William and Robert Shuford Center for International Education.
Herrera is a poet, performer, and activist who served as the United States' first Chicano Poet Laureate from 2015-2017. In addition to publishing more than a dozen collections of poetry, Herrera has written short stories, young adult novels, and children's literature. His most recent works for young people, "Imagine" and "Jabberwalking," were released this year. Herrera's numerous poetry collections include "187 Reasons Mexicanos Can't Cross the Border: Undocuments," "Half of the World in Light: New and Selected Poems," and "Border-Crosser with a Lamborghini Dream." In 2014, he released the nonfiction work "Portraits of Hispanic American Heroes," which showcases twenty Hispanic and Latino-American individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the arts, politics, science, humanitarianism, and athletics, an homage to those who have helped shape our nation.
Herrera's books for children and young adults have won several awards, including "Calling the Doves," which won the Ezra Jack Keats Award, and "Crashboomlove," a novel-in-verse for young adults, which won the Americas Award. His book "Half the World in Light" was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle prize in 2009, and his children's book, "The Upside Down Boy," was adapted into a musical.
The son of migrant farm workers, Herrera was educated at UCLA and Stanford University, and he earned his Master of Fine Arts from the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop. He has taught at the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop, University of California - Riverside, and served as chair of the Chicano and Latin American Studies Department at California State University - Fresno. Herrera served as a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets from 2011 to 2016. He is also a performance artist and activist on behalf of migrant and indigenous communities and at-risk youth.