Hancock Celebrates National Poetry Month With Events, Visit From U.S. Poet Laureate

Juan Felipe Herrera will be on campus Apr. 12

Juan Felipe HererraAPRIL 3, 2019--Allan Hancock College is hosting a variety of activities over the month of April to both celebrate 2019 National Poetry Month and commemorate the visit of Juan Felipe Herrera, former Poet Laureate of the United States (2015-17).

A poet, performer, writer, cartoonist, teacher and activist, Herrera was appointed the 21st United States Poet Laureate and is the first Mexican-American to hold the position.

On April 12, Herrera will host a poetry workshop on the Santa Maria campus from noon-2 p.m. in room H105. Themed “Sharing Stories in Diverse Communities,” the event is limited to 50 Hancock students, allowing those who attend an opportunity to work one-on-one with Herrera. Later that evening, from 7-8:30 p.m., Herrera will hold a lecture at Santa Maria High School in the Ethel Pope Auditorium. The lecture is free and open to the public.

“It is not often that a poet of Herrera’s caliber comes to Santa Maria, so we are thrilled!” said Hancock English Professor Kate Adams, Ph.D. “He is an accomplished performance poet and is well-known for being an engaging speaker who connects with audiences, particularly young people. I think of Herrera’s poetry as the people’s poetry; it lives not on the page but in the minds and hearts of listeners of all ages. He’s kind, funny and full of heart, and his theme for the evening lecture - “Somos America / We Are America” - seems especially pertinent in these partisan times. Poetry is a language of the heart, and Herrera’s work re-connects us to our essential humanity.”

Herrera's experiences as the child of migrant farmers have strongly shaped his work, such as the children's book Calling the Doves, which won the Ezra Jack Keats Book Award in 1997. Herrera’s publications include 14 collections of poetry, prose, short stories, young adult novels and picture books for children, with 21 books in total over the last decade. His 2007 volume 187 Reasons Mexicanos Can't Cross the Border: Undocuments 1971-2007 contains texts in both Spanish and English that examine the cultural hybridity that "revolve around questions of identity" on the U.S.-Mexico border. Herrera was awarded the 2008 National Book Critics Circle Award in Poetry for Half the World in Light. In 2012, he was appointed California Poet Laureate by California Governor Jerry Brown.

In addition to Herrera’s visit, the college is holding the following events throughout the month of April on its Santa Maria campus to celebrate National Poetry Month:

  • April 3 | Poetry MAKERSPACE (11 a.m. – 3 p.m., library)
  • April 4 | Poetry Pop-Up (11 a.m. – 1 p.m., Rabobank Student Center)
  • April 10 | Poetry Pop-Up (11 a.m. – 1 p.m., Rabobank Student Center)
  • April 11 | Poetry Pop-Up (11 a.m. – 1 p.m., Rabobank Student Center)
  • April 17 | Poetry MAKERSPACE (11 a.m. – 3 p.m., library)
  • April 24 | Poetry Pop-Up (11 a.m. – 1 p.m., Rabobank Student Center)
  • April 30 | “Poem in Your Pocket” Day

National Poetry Month was inaugurated by the Academy of American Poets in 1996. Over the years, it has become the largest literary celebration in the world with schools, publishers, libraries, booksellers and poets celebrating poetry’s vital place in our culture.

To learn more about Juan Felipe Herrera, visit the Library of Congress web guide describing all the projects he pursued during his two years as the U.S. Poet Laureate. For questions regarding Herrera’s visit, contact Kate Adams. For any media interview requests, please contact Lauren Milbourne.

- AHC -

Caption: A poet, performer, writer, cartoonist, teacher, and activist, Juan Felipe Herrera was appointed the 21st United States Poet Laureate, and is the first Mexican-American to hold the position. He will visit Allan Hancock College’s Santa Maria campus on April 12 to hold a student-centered workshop, and offer a free lecture to the community that evening at Santa Maria High School.

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Last Modified Apr 3, 2019