Chicano Poet

Monday, August 11, 2008

Most of Juan Felipe Herrera’s many books evoke at once the hardships that Mexican-Americans have undergone and the exhilarating space for self-reinvention that a New World art offers. The child of migrant workers and now a professor at the University of California, Riverside, Herrera began to publish and perform verse in the late 1960s and early ’70s, amid the Chicano cultural ferment of Los Angeles and San Diego; he has been, and should be, admired for his portrayals of Chicano life. Yet he is no mere recorder of social conditions. Herrera is, instead, a sometimes hermetic, wildly inventive, always unpredictable poet, whose work commands attention for its style alone.

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