Meet Juan Felipe Herrera

Everybody Wins DC is thrilled that Juan Felipe Herrera will be our featured speaker at the upcoming Gala.

Herrera was the 21st U. S. Poet Laureate, serving from 2015 to 2017.  The son of migrant farmers, Herrera grew up in California and was named a California Poet Laureate in 2012.  He is the first Mexican-American poet laureate of the U. S.  Herrera’s poetry books have won the National Book Critic’s Circle Award (2008), and his picture book, Calling the Doves, won the Ezra Jack Keats Book Award in 1997.

Memories of a childhood as a Spanish speaker in an English speaking school system left a deep impression on Herrera.  He often mentions an early mentor, his third grade teacher, Mrs. Sampson.  After a first grade experience in which he was forbidden to speak Spanish and a second grade he calls “a brutal year,” he met Mrs. Sampson, who connected with him and told him he “had a beautiful voice.”   Mrs. Sampson, then 93, was at Herrera’s inaugural reading as U. S. Poet Laureate.

Herrera understands the importance of mentoring and shared reading experiences. We hope hearing about his work to build community through poetry and his efforts to help others find their voice and speak up will inspire you.