UNM Press author Juan Felipe Herrera was appointed Poet Laureate by Librarian of Congress James H. Billington. Herrera will be the 21st Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry for 2015–16. The nation’s first Latino poet to hold the position, Herrera will begin his new role in the fall.
“I see in Herrera’s poems the work of an American original,” Billington said in a news release from the Library of Congress. “His poems engage in a serious sense of play—in language and in image—that I feel gives them enduring power. I see how they champion voices, traditions and histories, as well as a cultural perspective, which is a vital part of our larger American identity.”
Herrera said, “This is a mega-honor for me, for my family and my parents who came up north before and after the Mexican Revolution of 1910—the honor is bigger than me. 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. It is a miracle of many of us coming together.”
UNM Press published Herrera’s CrashBoomLove: A Novel in Verse. Drawn from his own life as well as a lifetime of dedication to young people, CrashBoomLove illuminates the experience of an adolescent Chicano growing up in Fowlerville, Calif. A starred review in Booklist called the book “a roller-coaster tour de force, remarkable for its ebullient portrait of hope and survival.”
University of New Mexico Press director John Byram said, “This is a fantastic and well-deserved honor for Mr. Herrera, UNM Press is proud to be the publisher of the vivid CrashBoomLove—the bestselling title of our award-winning Mary Burritt Christiansen Poetry Series.”