California State Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera is an acclaimed poet and author, and has taught poetry, art, and performance in different settings such as prisons, libraries, and community centers. He is Chair of creative writing at UC Riverside, and was named Poet Laureate of California in early 2012. The appointment is the first for a Latino in California. His parents were migrant farm workers; his writing articulates the life experiences of Mexican-Americans. Herrera commented, “This award is for all the young writers who want to put kindness inside every word throughout the state, because kindness is the heart of creativity.”
Juan holds a bachelor’s and master’s degree in social anthropology from UCLA and Stanford, respectively, and has an MFA from the University of Iowa. His numerous poetry volumes include: 187 Reasons Mexicanos Can't Cross the Border, Undocuments 1971–2007, and Border-Crosser with a Lamborghini Dream. He has also written children's books including, The Upside Down Boy, Laughing Out Loud, I Fly, and Cinnamon Girl, winner of the Américas Award. He has received numerous awards such as the National Book Critics Circle Award in poetry, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a PEN award, California Arts Council grants, National Endowment for the Arts fellowships, and a UCB Regents Fellowship.