Juan Felipe Herrera

Performer Joaquín Zihuatanejo Reflects on Literacy in Motion


World Slam Poetry Champion and Dallas native Joaquín Zihuatanejo was one of the key contributes to Literacy in Motion, both on stage and behind the scenes where he organized the Aberg Center for Literacy Youth Poetry Contest and worked with event planners to put together the spectacular event. 

Days later, the Zihuantenejo reflected on the amazing experience sharing the stage with the best of the Dallas poetry scene, the up-and-coming young literaries, and of course the U.S. Poet Laureate, Juan Felipe Herrera.

Here is an excerpt from his blog post on the experience:

Perhaps the highlight of the entire night for me was when JFH preparing to take the stage for his one hour feature said to me backstage minutes before he was scheduled to walk onstage, “Joaquin, there’s a second voice in one of the poems I want to read tonight, will you join me in the poem on stage?” I could not believe. As I said an emphatic “yes” to him I remember thinking to myself, so many years ago I was a skinny mocoso from the barrio with a curse word for the world...how did I get this beauty full life.

The entire reflection, titled "We Gathered in a Flourishing Way" after a Juan Felipe Herrera poem, can be read READ HERE

Dallas Morning News Profiles Juan Felipe Herrera and Literacy in Motion


In anticipation for next Thursday's LITERACY IN MOTION event, and to celebrate his second term as U.S. Poet Laureate, the Dallas Morning News profiled Juan Felipe Herrera today.

Here is an excerpt from the profile, written by staff writer Diana Solis.

Herrera fuses languages of English and Spanish into words like sunluz or speaks ofbendita rainbows. Sometimes he drops in Nahuatl, the language of the Aztecs that peppers so much of Mexico’s Spanish. Other times, he will sprinkle in Caló, an edgy, inventive slang of the bilingual.

In his poem “Let Us Gather in a Flourishing Way,” he writes, “Let us gather in a flourishing way with sunluz grains abriendo los cantos … to breathe todos en el camino blessing seeds to give to grow maiztlán en las manos de nuestro amor.”

He uses all the languages to expand the alchemy but also to heal.

CLICK HERE to read the entire article.

You can see Juan Felipe Herrera live at the Latino Cultural Center on May 12th @ 7pm along with a host Dallas' most talented poets and performers. TICKETS are on sale now. 

U.S. Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera heads "Literacy in Motion" - An Evening of Poetry and Performance benefiting Aberg Center for Literacy

U.S. Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera will headline a lively evening of poetry and performance benefiting Aberg Center for Literacy on Thursday, May 12 at 7 p.m.  The event at the Latino Cultural Center will also spotlight prominent poets and spoken word artists from the Dallas community.


“The son of migrant farm workers, Juan Felipe Herrera’s journey to becoming U.S. Poet Laureate epitomizes the power of literacy to transform lives,” says Shana Harrison, executive director for Aberg Center.  “It is what we are all about at Aberg Center.”

A prolific, award-winning poet and writer, Mr. Herrera, who served as California’s poet laureate from 2012 – 2014, is also a cartoonist, teacher, performer and activist on behalf of migrant and indigenous communities and at-risk youth.  The first Latino poet laureate, he earned his MFA from the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop after earning BA and masters degrees in social anthropology from UCLA and Stanford University, respectively. His introduction to poetry came from his mother who sang, told stories and recited poetry to her young son as they worked in fields or traveled from farm to farm through Southern California.

Moderated by Krys Boyd host of KERA 90.1 FM’s midday talk show Think, the evening will include conversation with Mr. Herrera and poetry performances by Mr. Herrera, World Poetry Slam Champion Joaquin Zihuatanejo and others.

“This is going to be an extraordinary thing not only for Latinos in Dallas or poetry lovers in Dallas but I truly feel that this is going to be astonishing for all of Dallas,” says Mr. Zihuatanejo, an award-winning teacher.  Mr. Zihuatanejo is artistic director for the event, working with producer Michael Moroney, a member of Aberg Center’s advocate council. 

Robert Casper, head of the Poetry and Literature Center at the Library of Congress says of Mr. Herrera :  “He speaks poetry in a way that I think is super-inspiring. He's the kind of poet who gives you permission to love poetry, to be excited about it, to be energized by it. To think that it's something freeing and fun but also relevant to the issues we face, the challenges we have; to understanding the world we're in." 

Tickets, $40 each, will be available starting April 1 at www.abergcenter.org.  All seating is reserved. The Latino Cultural Center is located at 2600 Live Oak in Dallas.