During the presentation during the National Book Festival Gala, California Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera read one of his poems, “Half Mexican.” As his lyrical voice projected in the auditorium, his words resonated with me. His beautiful words made me think about my kids and how they might see themselves, their culture and their race adults.
I was able to capture his reading on video, except for the very first line. The first line is
Odd to be half-Mexican, let me put it his way
If you prefer, you can read the entire poem in its entirety here: “Half Mexican.”
Knowing oneself is an evolving journey is what I realized after hearing Herrera’s poem. As it is for me and will be for my kids.
While touring the reading room at the Library of Congress, I had the opportunity to chat with Juan Felipe. After I shared how his reading resonated with me, he told me that I was creating art. Creating art by weaving together all the different parts of our family’s heritage and culture and passing it to Sophia and Jaxson.
In fact, we all are weaving all our parts together to create a new whole. His analogy worked perfectly for my artistic mind.
The gala was my first experience with Juan Felipe Herrera’s poems, but it won’t be my last. His latest collection of poems is Senegal Taxi (Camino del Sol) (affiliate link).
Do you have a favorite poet?