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Former U.S. poet laureate Juan Felipe Herrera goes to 'summer school' in Miami

Juan Felipe Herrera is a Mexican-American poet, activist and former U.S. poet laureate.
Courtesy of Blue Flower Arts
Juan Felipe Herrera is a Mexican-American poet, activist and former U.S. poet laureate.

One of the great American writers is going to summer school.

He’s going by choice. Juan Felipe Herrera is a former U.S. poet laureate — America’s poet. He’s in Miami this week to help teachers find creative ways to teach poetry in their classrooms.

His mission is to bring creative writing and expression to communities all over the country. Especially young students.

Herrera spent more than two decades as an educator — he’s got an elementary school named after him in Fresno, where he was born. He’s written more than 30 books — including children’s books. Teaching — and teaching poetry — is in his heart.

Herrera was born the son of migrant farmers in California. A love of writing made him the first ever Latino U.S. poet laureate in 2015.

This week, he’s speaking to K-12 and community college teachers at the annual Summer Poetry Teachers Institute hosted by O, Miami and the Poetry Foundation. He wants to help them develop new approaches to teaching poetry. So they can take that back to their classrooms in the fall. He’ll be reading his poetry afterward at the University of Miami.

On the July 13 episode of Sundial, Herrera tells us about the poetry he lives every day.

On Sundial's previous episode, the CEO of Urgent Inc. told us about the many ways arts and technology can empower kids to improve their community.

Listen to Sundial Monday through Thursday on WLRN, 91.3 FM, live at 1 p.m., rebroadcast at 8 p.m. Missed a show? Find every episode of Sundial on your favorite podcast app, such as Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, and Spotify.

Carlos Frías is a bilingual writer, a journalist of more than 25 years and the author of an award-winning memoir published by Simon & Schuster.
Elisa Baena is a former associate producer for Sundial.
Helen Acevedo, a freelance producer, is a grad student at Florida International University studying Spanish-language journalism, a bilingual program focused on telling the stories of diverse communities.