California Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera


Avid readers, writers and lovers of art, tune in. This is a story that will interest you. On October 17th, this Thursday, the Chautauqua Poets and Writers Organization is bringing to Ashland the nationally acclaimed poet Juan Felipe Herrera. That night at 7:30 PM, he will read some of his most famous poems to a very lucky audience. It’s an opportunity unique to our city, and it’s an opportunity you should not miss. He will be one of Chautauqua’s most famous and emotional poets yet!

Who is the Man Behind the Poet?

Herrera is the California Poet Laureate and has earned a plethora of prestigious awards and fellowships for his poetry. This includes the Gugenheim Fellowship and the National Book Critics Circle Award. However, Herrera was not always the poet he is today.

Herrera was born in Fowler, California in 1948. He was the son of migrant farmers and moved frequently from place to place, living in tents and trailers most of his childhood. He was naturally artistic, always drawing as a young boy and pursuing experimental theatre as a young adult. His interests in his own rich Hispanic heritage led him to study topics such as social anthropology in top universities such as UCLA and Stanford in the 1970s. These studies only piqued his interest further and inspired him to lead a Chicano trek from majestic rainforests of the Chiapas to the mountains of Nayarit. This earlier part of Herrera’s life still influences his art today, which includes poetry, video, theatre, prose and performance.

Student Workshop

The morning after the swag, starting at 9:00, Herrera will be giving a free workshop in the Ashland High School library. The Chautauqua Organization invites anyone in the community to attend but students in particular. This workshop will feature further readings, a discussion about Herrera’s artistic process and an opportunity for the audience to have questions answered by Herrera as well as any other fun activities the distinguished poet may have planned. For Ashland High School students, the event is conveniently fit into the school’s second period. There is strong encouragement for all students who can to attend.