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

Laughing Out Loud, I Fly

Laughing out loud, I fly, toward the good things,

to catch Mamá Lucha on the sidewalk, after

school, waiting for the green-striped bus,

on the side of the neighborhood store, next to almonds, 

José’s tiny wooden mule, the wiseboy from San Diego,

teeth split apart, like mine in the coppery afternoon

it’s about 3, the fly smears my ear, but I jump

I am a monkey cartoon or a chile tamal, crazy

with paisley patches, infinite flavors cinnamon &

banana ice cream, it’s 3 in the afternoon, no, at 5

my mother says she will call me

& arrive, a rainbow. 





Literary Movements:


Anthology Years:



Childhood & Coming of Age


Intersectionality & Culture

Literary Devices:


a line break interrupting the middle of a phrase which continues on to the next line


visually descriptive or figurative language, especially in a literary work


a comparison between two unrelated things through a shared characteristic