Juan Felipe Herrera

Quotes
Quote Topics Cited
A pen is different from the pad, the key, moving your fingers across a screen. I like both. I like to work on sketchbooks, big old white sketch paper. I like how that feels, and I like to put different media on it. Then there's the phone, smartphone, iPad: It's the new page, and it's not the same page anymore. Work, Workers & The Labor Force
All voices are important, and yet it seems that people of color have a lot to say, particularly if you look through the poetry of young people - a lot of questions and a lot of concerns about immigration and security issues, you name it - big questions. Literature, Writers & Writing
As a boy, I felt ashamed of being Mexican. I'd say I was Hawaiian.
By middle school, I said to myself that it's time I begin to speak. I joined the choir, not because I wanted to. I forced myself. Time
Diversity really means becoming complete as human beings - all of us. We learn from each other. If you're missing on that stage, we learn less. We all need to be on that stage.
Do not wait for a poem; a poem is too fast for you. Do not wait for the poem; run with the poem and then write the poem.
First grade was - I spoke only Spanish, and second grade - probably a bit more English. And by the time I hit third grade, I was learning, of course, much, much more English. Education, Learning, Knowledge & Training ;Time
I am representing California, and all of California, definitely as a Mexicano, a Chicano, a Latino.
I gave my voice to poetry. Literature, Writers & Writing
I know I'm representing the Library of Congress, all the people of the United States and, of course, the Latinos and Latinas as well.
I like marketplaces. I like train stations; I like being in trains. I like airports. I like walking down the street with a pen in my hand, writing, writing, writing.
I remember looking at James Joyce's journals. It was just amazing - it looked like ants had written on the page. So much writing on one page, every corner of the page was filled. Some of the lines were underlined in yellow or blue or red. A lot of color, intense writing.
I tell my workshop students, 'I want you to think of yourselves as artists. Then, when you're writing, you're painting, you're crafting, you're making a design, you're sculpting, you're creating choreography, sound, a sound script.'
I used to stand on the corner in San Diego with poems sticking out of my hip pocket, asking people if there was a place where I could read poems. The audience is half of the poem.
I want our young Latinos and Latinas to write their hearts out and express their hearts out and let us all listen to each other.
I want to take everything I have in me, weave it, merge it with the beauty that is in the Library of Congress, all the resources, the guidance of the staff and departments, and launch it with the heart-shaped dreams of the people.
I write while I'm walking, on little scraps of paper. If I have a melody going, I can feel it for days.
If I can only be known as one thing, then, well, I guess it would be poet and performer and teacher. Education, Learning, Knowledge & Training
I'm a political poet - let us say a 'human' poet, a poet that's concerned with the plight of people who suffer. If words can be of assistance, then that's what I'm going to use.
I'm usually writing in English, and then I'll get the hankering to change channels. And usually I'll do that when I want to try a whole new set of keys, like musical keys.
I'm very grateful to all the people of Fresno, to Philip Levine and all the poets before me, and all the farmworkers. I didn't get here by myself.
In my writing, I want to address all communities, you know. I've spent many years talking about Chicano culture, Chicano history, and at the same time, I've also been in many communities and presented my work in many communities, in many classrooms, and that's where my vision is and my delight is and my heart is. Time ;History ;Work, Workers & The Labor Force
I've worked throughout California as a poet: in colleges, universities, worker camps, migrant education offices, continuation high schools, juvenile halls, prisons, and gifted classrooms. Education, Learning, Knowledge & Training
Just like my parents immigrated from ranch to ranch picking crops, I have migrated from city to city.
Let's detox our cluttered academic brain. That's what the poet does. People call it daydreaming, detoxing our minds and taking care of that clutter. It's being able to let in call letters from the poetry universe. Literature, Writers & Writing
Marvin Bell always looked very closely at how lines could break, how you could put over one line into the second line. How you could stop the line two or three times within the line: You could make it stop.
Migrants all over the world are pushed and pulled across borders by hunger, terror and climate change. It happened to my own family. Families, Children & Parenting
My grandmother and my mom and my aunt Aurelia, my grandmother Juanita, my mom Lucia - we lived on the outskirts of a barrio in Mexico City called Tepito, and Tepito for many, many decades was the largest barrio in Mexico and perhaps even Latin America.
My mother was a great storyteller and a great historian in her own way. She only made it to third grade. She came from Mexico City at the tail end of the Mexican Revolution and that kind of turmoil and chaos and frenzy and also excitement.
My mother was a washerwoman - or a woman that cleaned houses in Texas... in Plano, Texas - who always loved poetry and always loved stories. Literature, Writers & Writing
My parents moved from ranch to ranch, valley to valley, town to town, but our roots in Fowler never really faded. For me, it's a place of history, stories and songs, not just facts and figures. History
Perhaps, like the way these leaves spread out and the way they curl in many directions and how they have many features, I think that's how my road has been.
Poetry can tell us about what's going on in our lives - not only our personal but our social and political lives. Literature, Writers & Writing
Poetry is a call to action, and it also is action. Literature, Writers & Writing
Poetry, as odd as it is, and as hard to figure out as it is, many times, it's almost something that we're used to. It's kind of like a dream language that we had centuries ago, so that when we speak poetically or write a poem about what's going on, a real difficult issue that's facing our communities, people listen. Literature, Writers & Writing
San Diego shaped me a lot. The visual landscapes, the emotional panoramas, the teachers and mentors I had from the third grade through San Diego High - it's all a big part of the poetry fountain that I continue to drink from. Literature, Writers & Writing
Sometimes I have a very fleeting emotional dance with a fleeting phrase, like 'half-Mexican.'
Sometimes it's like that. I go, 'You know what? I'm going to just change scales. I'm going to even change instruments. And I'm going to go into the chromatics of the Spanish language,' and I do. You know, the poem is totally different. It's like a lunar voice versus a day voice, a solar voice.
Sometimes you can do things with Spanish - like verbs and genders - easier than you can in English.
The banner of the project is 'Casa de Colores.' Under that banner, I'm going to invite people to do a lot of good things. Perhaps working in groups, working on poetry. Literature, Writers & Writing
The goal for me is to be as expansive as possible, and the Library of Congress offers so many resources.
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. Society
We speak about understanding each other, having those conversations nationwide - culturally, historically - and yet there's a lot of gaps. So I want to assist with closing the gap of knowing about and hearing about our Latino communities in terms of literature, in terms of writing.
We went from crop to crop, field to field. And my father had that army truck, a 1940s army truck from Fort Bliss, El Paso.
What I really had was stories, the oral traditions of my parents. We moved so much that that was really our encyclopedia. A dream world told to me from my parents in the living room.
Yes, I am the first Latino poet laureate in the United States. But I'm also here for everyone and from everyone. My voice is made by everyone's voices.