Juan Felipe Herrera


The son of migrant farm workers, Herrera was educated at UCLA and Stanford University, and he earned his MFA from the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop. His numerous poetry collections include 187 Reasons Mexicanos Can’t Cross the Border: Undocuments 1971-2007, Half of the World in Light: New and Selected Poems (2008), and Border-Crosser with a Lamborghini Dream (1999). In addition to publishing more than a dozen collections of poetry, Herrera has written short stories, young adult novels, and children’s literature. His most recent works for young people include Imagine (2018) and Jabberwalking (2018). In 2015 he was named U.S. poet laureate. Herrera is also a performance artist and activist on behalf of migrant and indigenous communities and at-risk youth. His creative work often crosses genres, including poetry opera and dance theater. His children’s book, The Upside Down Boy (2000), was adapted into a musical. His books for children and young adults have won several awards, including Calling the Doves (2001), which won the Ezra Jack Keats Award, and Crashboomlove (1999), a novel-in-verse for young adults which won the Americas Award. His book Half The World in Light was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle prize in 2009. Herrera has taught at California State University-Fresno and at the University of California-Riverside, and he currently serves on the Board of Chancellors of the Academy of American Poets. He lives in California. Source

Everyday We Get More Illegal

Yet the peach tree 

still rises

& falls with fruit & without

birds eat it the sparrows fight

our desert       


            burns with trash & drug

it also breathes & sprouts

vines & maguey


laws pass laws with scientific walls

detention cells   husband

                           with the son

                        the wife &

the daughter who

married a citizen   

they stay behind broken slashed


un-powdered in the apartment to

deal out the day

             & the puzzles

another law then   another



                      spirit exile




migration                     sky

the grass is mowed then blown

by a machine  sidewalks are empty

clean & the Red Shouldered Hawk


down  — from

an abandoned wooden dome

                       an empty field


it is all in-between the light

every day this     changes a little


yesterday homeless &

w/o papers                  Alberto

left for Denver a Greyhound bus he said

where they don’t check you


walking working

under the silver darkness

            walking   working

with our mind

our life





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Poems of Place

Literary Devices:


a break between words within a metrical foot


visually descriptive or figurative language, especially in a literary work


a comparison between two unrelated things through a shared characteristic