Former U.S. poet laureate to give online reading through KU’s Hall Center lecture series

photo by: Contributed Photo

Juan Felipe Herrera

Former United States poet laureate Juan Felipe Herrera will speak online Wednesday night as part of the University of Kansas’ Hall Center’s humanities lecture series.

Herrera, the first Mexican American to become poet laureate of the United States, held the position from 2015 to 2017. His work is shaped by his experience growing up in California as the son of two migrant farmers. James Billington, the librarian of Congress at the time of Herrera’s appointment, said in a statement that Herrera’s poems were an “American original.”

“His poems engage in a serious sense of play — in language and in image — that I feel gives them enduring power,” Billington said in a release announcing Herrera’s appointment. “I see how they champion voices, traditions and histories, as well as a cultural perspective, which is a vital part of our larger American identity.”

Herrera has written more than two dozen books, including collections of poetry, prose, short stories, young adult novels and picture books for children. His most recent book of poetry is “Every Day We Get More Illegal,” which comes out on Sept. 22.

Herrera’s talk is part of the Hall Center’s 2020-2021 speaker series, “Migration Stories.” The series includes humanities scholars and writers “whose work on immigration, especially the stories of those whose lives have included migration, highlights the continued significance and relevance of the humanities to our contemporary world,” KU’s website states. The series is co-sponsored by KU’s Center for Migration Research.

“An Evening with Juan Felipe Herrera” will take place at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday. Herrera will answer questions following his reading. The event is free and will be livestreamed on the Hall Center’s Crowdcast page:


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