I post this because it highlights the quality and character of immigrants to the United States of America, which seems a good thing to do at this time. It is also includes a rather joyful video story - a scant four minutes - which is a belated Father's Day celebration.
Juan Felipe Herrera is a Mexican-American poet and performance artist, a writer and cartoonist, a teacher and an activist.
"Many poets since the 1960s have dreamed of a new hybrid art, part oral, part written, part English, part something else: an art grounded in ethnic identity, fueled by collective pride, yet irreducibly individual too. Many poets have tried to create such an art: Herrera is one of the first to succeed." Punk Half Panther by Stephen Burt in the New York Times
Herrara incorporates into his writing his experience of family and the life of the compesinos, migrant farm-workers.
"Into the tilted factories, the smeared taxis,
the stunted universities, into the parlor of bank notes,
in the cramped cookhouse where the dark-skinned
humans still stoop and pitch the daily lettuce bags ..."
He sometimes tells stories that arise from what is for him a pivotal moment: the early school experience of trying to fit in though he had no English-language skills. He also writes stories that illustrate the problems of immigration, which often separates families.
In 2012, California Governor, Jerry Brown, named Herrera California Poet Laureate, the first Chicano poet to be so honored. He is currently the 21st U.S. Poet Laureate Consultant.
Many of us - like Juan Felipe Herrara - had fathers or grandfathers who came to the United States to make a better life for themselves and eventually for their children and future generations and who went on to make substantive contributions to this country. Sometimes we like to remember and acknowledge them for their vision, courage and hard work. The video below is a charming children's story, A Tale for Father's Day, about Herrera's immigrant father. Enjoy! ...
- Jamie Dedes (The Poet by Day)