Like May Swenson, he can do a lot of different things well, and has been known to move words in very interesting ways around the page. Herrera finally received some major props in 2008 when he won the National Book Critics Circle Award, becoming the first Latino poet to receive it. Herrera attended UCLA, Stanford, and Iowa, and has taught at California State University, Fresno and University of California, Riverside, where he directors the Art and Barbara Culver Center for the Arts. He has also taught poetry in California prisons, and works with local schools and community colleges in and around Riverside.
EL ÁNGEL DE LA GUARDA
(The Guardian Angel)
I should have visited more often.
I should have taken the sour pudding they offered.
I should have danced that lousy beggar shuffle.
I should have painted their rooms in a brighter color.
I should have put a window in there, for the daughters.
I should have provided a decent mountain for a view.
I should have nudged them a little closer to the sky.
I should have guessed they would never come out to wave.
I should have cleaned up that mole, the abyss, in the back.
I should have touched them, that's it, it comes to me now.
I should have touched them.
(From Woodland Pattern Bookstore's site) From Lotería Cards and Fortune Poems: A Book of Lives, by Juan Felipe Herrera, Linocuts by Artemil Rodrígues Copyright © City Lights, 1999. All rights reserved.