“a way to attain a life without boundaries”: Juan Felipe Herrera’s “Let Me Tell You What a Poem Brings”

Photo courtesy Modestas Urbonas via Unsplash.

Photo courtesy Modestas Urbonas via Unsplash.

The new Poet Laureate of the United States has just been announced! Juan Felipe Herrera will take up the post in September, the first Chicano poet to do so. He is also the former poet laureate of California. You can read more about him in this Los Angeles Times piece and in this Poetry Foundation profile.

In honor of Mr. Herrera, this week’s poem is “Let Me Tell You What a Poem Brings.” Poetry on poetry can be a bit fussy and pretentious, but here the poem takes readers on a sort of breathless tour, and we end up someplace completely different from where we started, a place where we are “thirsty” but where we are drawn into “alarming waters” that nonetheless invite us to “bathe” and “play.” It’s an inventive, exciting poem that conjures up the best of what poetry can do.

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