Juan Felipe Herrera Wins the PEN USA 2008 Poetry Award

by Ailsa Zheng, Student Intern of CHASS College Computing

Professor Juan Felipe Herrera has won the PEN USA 2008 Literary Award for poetry for his recent book, 187 Reasons Mexicanos Can’t Cross the Border Undocuments 1971-2007.  He will be honored on December 3rd in the City of Los Angeles.

187 Reasons is a book of poetry with spoken-word flair. In journal form it presents Herrera’s poetry from the past thirty-seven years as he traveled between the United States of America and Latin America, surveying the political unrest of his people. Herrera’s writing is heavily influenced by his Chicano heritage: his work chronicles the struggles of Latinos, a subject underrepresented in today’s media. 187 Reasons is thus a selection of poetry which educates through art.

PEN Center USA’s annual awards program started in 1982 and awards writers who live west of the Mississippi River as well as in all of Louisiana and Minnesota. Every fall, PEN USA calls for literary submissions published in that year. Submissions are reviewed by a panel of judges made up of distinguished writers, editors, and critics. Annual awards are then distributed for ten categories: fiction, creative nonfiction, research nonfiction, poetry, children’s literature, translation, journalism, drama, teleplay, and screenplay.

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