Poet Laureate on the Power of Poetry and Working with CPS

Juan Felipe Herrera was named U.S. Poet Laureate in 2015. The son of Mexican migrant workers, he is the first Mexican-American and first Latino to hold the prestigious post.

For the past year, Herrera has been working with dozens of Chicago Public School teachers to bring his passion for poetry to thousands of ninth-grade students.

Every CPS freshman English class is required to cover poetry, and Herrera, using imagination exercises and games helped students explore the nature of poetry as a means of communication and expression.

  • (Courtesy of The Poetry Foundation)

    (Courtesy of The Poetry Foundation)

  • (Courtesy of The Poetry Foundation)

    (Courtesy of The Poetry Foundation)

  • (Courtesy of The Poetry Foundation)

    (Courtesy of The Poetry Foundation)

  • (Courtesy of The Poetry Foundation)

    (Courtesy of The Poetry Foundation)

  • (Courtesy of The Poetry Foundation)

    (Courtesy of The Poetry Foundation)

  • (Courtesy of The Poetry Foundation)

    (Courtesy of The Poetry Foundation)

  • (Courtesy of The Poetry Foundation)

    (Courtesy of The Poetry Foundation)

Wordstreet Champions and Brave Builders of the Dream is a partnership of The Poetry Foundation, Chicago Public Schools and The Library of Congress.

“Juan Felipe Herrera shows that poetry can do far more than just engage students; it opens their minds to a new way of communicating and, often, untapped potential,” says Henry Bienen, president of the Poetry Foundation. “This program is a perfect example of the Poetry Foundation’s commitment to the teachers and students in our city.”

Herrera joins host Phil Ponce to talk about that project and his time as poet laureate.

Below, Herrera reads “Poem by Poem.”


In this video, Herrera reads “Song Out Here.”


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