Times Festival of Books Honors Juan Felipe Herrera

U.S. Poet Laureate and retired creative writing professor will receive the Robert Kirsch Award for lifetime achievement

Juan Felipe Herrera

Juan Felipe Herrera will receive the 2015 Kirsch Award for lifetime achievement during the 21st Los Angeles Times Festival of Books. Photo by Carlos Puma for UC Riverside

RIVERSIDE, Calif. – Juan Felipe Herrera, United States Poet Laureate and professor of creative writing emeritus at the University of California, Riverside, will receive the 2015 Robert Kirsch Award for lifetime achievement during the 21st Los Angeles Times Festival of Books.

The award will be presented April 9.

“We are delighted to honor Juan Felipe Herrera’s remarkable 45-year career as a writer, teacher and activist,” Kenneth Turan, Times film critic and director of the Times Book Prizes, said in the Times’ announcement today. “His literary contributions include poetry, prose, young adult novels and children’s literature, and his work in all artistic forms highlights a life dedicated to giving voice to those who are not always heard.”

Herrera, who retired in March 2015 as a professor of creative writing at UCR, was named California Poet Laureate in 2012 and U.S. Poet Laureate in 2015. The son of migrant farm workers, Herrera earned a B.A. in social anthropology from UCLA, an M.A. in social anthropology from Stanford University, and an M.F.A. in poetry from the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop. He joined the UCR faculty in 2005 and was the Tomás Rivera Chair in Creative Writing until he was named the state’s poet laureate.

The popular poet has published numerous volumes of poetry, prose, theater, children’s books and young adult novels, among them “Portraits of Hispanic Americans” (2014), “Half of the World in Light: New and Selected Poems” (University of Arizona, 2008), which received the PEN/Beyond Margins Award, the International Latino Award in poetry, and the National Book Critics Circle Award. He has been elected to the Board of Chancellors of the Academy of American Poets, and has received the Guggenheim Fellowship in poetry, fellowships and grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the California Arts Council, and the UC Berkeley Regent’s Fellowship. Other honors include the Breadloaf Fellowship in Poetry, the Stanford Chicano Fellows Fellowship, the Ezra Jack Keats Award, the Hungry Mind Award of Distinction and the Focal Award.

The Book Prizes recognize 50 remarkable works in 10 different categories: biography, current interest, fiction, first fiction (the Art Seidenbaum Award), graphic novel/comics, history, mystery/thriller, poetry, science and technology, and young adult literature. Judging panels of writers who specialize in each genre select finalists and winners. The complete list of this year’s finalists and further information, including past winners, is available at latimes.com/bookprizes. Tickets for the ceremony will be made available for purchase on March 8. The festival will be held April 9-10.

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