City of Riverside Honors Juan Felipe Herrera

The California Poet Laureate and UC Riverside poetry professor receives the city’s Arts and Innovation Honoree award for June.

Juan Felipe Herrera

Juan Felipe Herrera

RIVERSIDE, Calif. — The Riverside City Council recognized UC Riverside poetry professor Juan Felipe Herrera as its Arts and Innovation Honoree of the Month on June 12. Herrera, who holds the endowed Tomás Rivera Chair in Creative Writing at UCR, was appointed California Poet Laureate by Gov. Jerry Brown in March.

Herrera is an advocate for the art of writing and is committed to creative literacy for everyone, Patrick Brien, executive director of the Riverside Arts Council, told members of the City Council. “He understands that we might not all be great word artists, but we all have a story to tell,” he said.

Brien noted Herrera’s upbringing as the son of a migrant worker and the first in his family to attend college.

“Juan Felipe was the one who coined the term ‘Inlandia,’ which became the title of a now-very-familiar book, ‘Inlandia: A Literary Journey Through California’s Inland Empire,’ and the literary organization that evolved from it. He helped to set the Inlandia Institute in motion and remains on its Advisory Council. He just developed the Inlandia Children’s Puppet Poetry Theatre that is supported by a grant from Target,” Brien said.

Herrera earned his bachelor’s degree in social anthropology from UCLA, a master’s degree in social anthropology from Stanford University, and a Master of Fine Arts from the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop.

He has published numerous volumes of poetry, prose, theater, children’s books and young adult novels, among them “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.

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