Celebrate Juan Felipe Herrera! - National Council of Teachers of English
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Celebrate Juan Felipe Herrera!

Juan Felipe Herrera was born on this day in 1948. Herrera is the American poet, author, and activist of Mexican descent who became the first Latino poet laureate of the United States. He is known for his often-bilingual and autobiographical poems on immigration, Chicano identity, and life in California.

Herrera spent much of his first term as Laureate traveling across the country conducting readings, lectures, and workshops with students and members of the general public. He became the country’s first Latino Poet Laureate, from 2015–2017, after being a teacher and a poet for five decades. His inaugural reading as Poet Laureate occurred in the Library of Congress’s Coolidge Auditorium on Tuesday, September 15, 2015.

Read more about Juan Felipe Herrera’s journey and his activities in this Council Chronicle article. Peer inside a classroom as Herrera shares his insights about poetry.

NCTE member and past College Section Chair R. Joseph Rodriguez shares classroom applications and resources about “Our US Poet Laureate and Hispanic Heritage,” including ideas for writing original poetry.

Watch NCTE President Alfredo Celedón Luján in conversation with Juan Felipe Herrera as part of a National Hispanic Heritage Month celebration with NCTE and the Library of Congress.

Poet Juan Felipe Herrera, artist Juana Medina, and readers across the world worked together on a collaborative, bilingual, illustrated poem called “The Technicolor Adventures of Catalina Neon.”

What’s a collaborative piece of writing you have worked on?


Lisa Fink is an NCTE Staff Member, a former elementary teacher, and a current university instructor at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. She can be reached on Twitter @fink_girl.

Curious about the NCTE and Library of Congress connection? Through a grant announced by NCTE Executive Director Emily Kirkpatrick, NCTE is engaged in new ongoing work with the Library of Congress, and “will connect the ELA community with the Library of Congress to expand the use of primary sources in teaching.” Stay tuned for more throughout the year!

It is the policy of NCTE in all publications, including the Literacy & NCTE blog, to provide a forum for the open discussion of ideas concerning the content and the teaching of English and the language arts. Publicity accorded to any particular point of view does not imply endorsement by the Executive Committee, the Board of Directors, the staff, or the membership at large, except in announcements of policy, where such endorsement is clearly specified.