Juan Felipe Hererra’s writing fuses wide-ranging experimentalism with reflections on Mexican-American identity . . .–The New York Times
In forty cantos, the poet explores the metaphysical relationship between Frida Kahlo, her art, her broken body, and cross-border consciousness. First published in 1994, this early work–his sixth book–reveals a deep sense of longing for all to be made whole again in spite of fractures–physical, metaphorical, cultural–bestowed by the world.
From Prologue: A Second Body:
Think on the time it takes a scar to heal,
a river to rise — an old woman to regain the tumbling
powers of her busted arms — a young woman (calling
herself Frida) to re-structure her shattered vertebrae, to
be caught up with a body-cast, a second body which she
inhabits — for the rest of her life; this is precious to me,
that is all.
She painted herself somewhere in-between Mexico and
the United States — in the open space of the jaws; between
the mandibles of the jaguar and the nuclear turbine.
It is the healing of this metaphysical fracture too (which
may invoke further breakage) that concerns me.
Juan Felipe Herrera was raised in a farm-working family in the San Joaquin Valley. A graduate of UCLA, the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and Stanford University, he has written numerous books. Herrera’s awards include a Guggenheim Fellowship, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and the PEN USA Award. Former Poet Laureate of California and now United States Poet Laureate, he lives in Fresno.