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Library Of Congress Names Juan Felipe Herrera U.S. Poet Laureate

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Let's head down now to Southern California to hear America's newly-named poet laureate. The Library of Congress has named Juan Felipe Herrera to the post. Up until a few months ago, he was the poet laureate of California. Herrera is also the son of migrant farm workers. He told NPR's All Things Considered that his writing is grounded in a childhood on the move.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)

JUAN FELIPE HERRERA: I grew up, day to day, traveling from one place to another, moving pretty quickly and unexpectedly in the migrant world. So poems for me are that, a way to achieve a life without boundaries.

MONTAGNE: Herrera writes in both English and Spanish. His subjects are often the dispossessed, from Mexican-American immigrants to children escaping war in Africa or, as in this poem, those surviving Hurricane Katrina.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)

HERRERA: Water, water, water, wind, water, across the land shape of a torn heart. New Orleans, waves, come, Louisiana, the waves come, Alabama, wind calls, Alabama, and the roofs blow across red clouds. Inside the divine spiral, there is a voice; inside the voice, there is light.

MONTAGNE: That's from the poem, "Water Water Water Wind Water," from America's next poet laureate, Juan Felipe Herrera. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.