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Juan Felipe Herrera Becomes First Mexican-American U.S. Poet Laureate

Juan Felipe Herrera

Juan Felipe Herrera, a Mexican-American poet, professor, and Stanford graduate, has become the first Latino in history to be awarded the honor of being named the United States Poet Laureate.

“The more we engage in society, the more firsts we have, then there will be a moment when we have no more firsts. Or maybe there will always be new firsts,” Juan Felipe Herrera stated in a recent interview with The Guardian’s Michelle Dean.

This particular first will be one for the history books.

As the 21st Poet Laureate for 2015-2016, Herrera will participate in the Library of Congress’ National Book Festival in September, open the Library’s annual literary season with a reading of his work at the Coolidge Auditorium in Washington, D.C, and receive a stipend of $35,000.

Herrera is best known for his work on personal and political issues such as “Blood on the Wheel” and “187 Reasons Mexicans Can’t Cross the Border.” His biggest project thus far has been “The Most Incredible and Biggest and Most Amazing Poem on Unity in the World,” consisting of fragments sent in by California residents.

Herrera said he wants to continue that collaborative kind of work in his new national role.

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