According to a press release from the Library of Congress, Acting Librarian of Congress David Mao has appointed Juan Felipe Herrera to serve a second term as the 21st Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry. The announcement was made the evening of Herrera’s end-of-term lecture to the Library, April 13.
In making the announcement, Mao said, “In his first term as Laureate, Juan Felipe Herrera traveled the country championing poetry; he also launched an ambitious project on the Library’s website. We look forward to seeing what Herrera will accomplish in his second term, and we know he will continue to inspire and educate with his warmth, enthusiasm and creative genius.”
Herrera is the first Hispanic poet to serve in the position. About his second term, he said, “Deep gratitude and great joy, and many thank-you’s to the Library. I look forward to continuing my first year’s momentum and sharing the inspiration tsunami given to me in every community that I visit throughout the U.S.A. as Laureate.”
Herrera’s second term will begin Sept. 1. He joins several others who held the post for more than one term, including Natasha Trethewey, Kay Ryan, Ted Kooser, and Billy Collins. More information about his second-term project will be announced later in the summer.
Herrera’s first term was noteworthy for his online project, “La Casa de Colores” which was made up of two parts. According to the LOC, “La Familia” is “a submission-based epic poem asking for the participation of the general public.” Herrera’s other work, “El Jardín,” is a “series chronicling Herrera’s experiences exploring and interacting with the Library’s resources and collections.”
The author of 30 books of poetry, novels for young adults and collections for children, Herrera’s most recent work is “Portraits of Hispanic American Heroes” (2014), a picture book showcasing inspiring Hispanic- and Latino-Americans, and “Notes on the Assemblage” (2015), a volume of poems.
The Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry is housed at the Library of Congress’s Poetry and Literature Center. The position was founded in 1936 when Archer M. Huntington endowed the Chair of Poetry at the Library.
Since then, many of the nation’s most eminent poets have served as Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress and, after the passage of Public Law 99-194 (Dec. 20, 1985), as Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry. The role of the Poet Laureate is to suggest “authors to read in the Library’s literary series and plan other special events during the literary season.” More information about the laureate is available at the LOC website.
As the world’s largest library, the Library of Congress has over 162 million holdings in many languages, disciplines and formats. The Library not only serves the Senate and House of Representatives in their work as members of the U.S. Congress, but it also serves the nation as a whole at its location in Washington, D.C. and through its website.