Juan Felipe Herrera’s Facebook page is public, and it is wonderful.
On it Herrera, the U.S. poet laureate revered for the depth of his wisdom and precision of his observation, is just a guy. He splashes around the beach with his grandchildren. He mourns the death of his beloved dog. He documents his travels. He throws his arms around friend after friend in photo after photo.
This is the man tasked with being the public face of American poetry, with giving voice to our many pains and few ecstasies. But this is not a man of gilded pages and ivory towers. This is a man whose parents were migrant farmers, a man who grew up in California’s counterculture with the Beats and the Chicano rights movement as prime influences, a man whose Twitter handle is @cilantroman.
Herrera, who will make three public appearances in Yakima next week — including a free public reading at the Capitol Theatre on May 16 — is the first Latino U.S. poet laureate.