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How San Diego Influenced Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera

How San Diego Influenced Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera

GUEST:

Juan Felipe Herrera, U.S. Poet Laureate

Transcript

The Library of Congress named Juan Felipe Herrera as the first Latino U.S. Poet Laureate this summer, and much of his work draws from his upbringing in San Diego.

The son of Mexican farm workers, Herrera grew up in Logan Heights, learned his first rhymes from his mother.

"My mother sang to me at a very early age," Herrera told KPBS Midday Edition on Monday. "She loved poetry, language and reading. She would always tell me stories."

In the mid-1970s, Herrera became the director of the Centro Cultural de la Raza in Balboa Park.

Herrera's poetry has focused on the plight of Mexican farm workers and immigrants. He wrote more than two dozen books and most recently was California’s Poet Laureate. His collection, "Half of the World in Light," won the National Book Critic's Circle award in 2008.

This fall, he’s releasing a new collection of poems titled "Notes on the Assemblage."

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