Poet in the Shadows

Juan Felipe Herrera, December 27, 1948-present, Fowler, CA

"Words Never Spoken"


Juan Felipe Herrera is a poet that spoke about his struggles during the Chicano Movement. He is said to be one of the first Mexican-American writers of the 20th century. He spoke about what he had to go through in school in the 60s & 70s. People of today call his works, "Unique" and "Original", since no one really spoke about the time of the Chicano Movement.

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187 Reasons Mexicanos Can't Cross the Border

Most Famous Work-

A mix of writings on the road, from Mexico City to San Francisco, from Central America to Central California, illustrated throughout with photos and artwork. Rants, manifestos, newspaper cutups, street theater, anti-lectures and love poems tell the story of what it’s like to live outlaw and brown in the United States while going through the tough period of the Chicano Movement. This is for sure one of his best works.

Well Knowned Poem- Half-Mexican

Odd to be a half-Mexican, let me put it this way

I am Mexican + Mexican, then there’s the question of the half

To say Mexican without the half, well it means another thing

One could say only Mexican

Then think of pyramids – obsidian flaw, flame etchings, goddesses with

Flayed visages claw feet & skulls as belts – these are not Mexican

They are existences, that is to say

Slavery, sinew, hearts shredded sacrifices for the continuum

Quarks & galaxies, the cosmic milk that flows into trees

Then darkness

What is the other – yes

It is Mexican too, yet it is formless, it is speckled with particles

European pieces? To say colony or power is incorrect

Better to think of Kant in his tiny room

Shuffling in his black socks seeking out the notion of time

Or Einstein re-working the erroneous equation

Concerning the way light bends – all this has to do with

The half, the half-thing when you are a half-being



How they stalk you & how you beseech them

All this becomes your life-long project, that is

You are Mexican. One half Mexican the other half

Mexican, then the half against itself.

T: How he sees himself

P: How Being Mexican Reflects to the world.

C: Sinew, Obsidian Flaw, Flayed Visages.

A: Aware, Modest,

S: When he realizes and thinks that being Mexican is what makes him whole

T: How being Mexican changes his views in life.

T: Never think less or yourself; especially of your race.

3 Pieces of Art That Relate to Him-

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Juan grew up an agricultural worker, the "typical" work for any Chicano of that time period.

He wanted change by how they got treated.

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This picture is a remake of Rosie the Riveter. It was an iconic image of the 20th century. In the meaning of it, if it could inspire people to do something, then it could encourage Chicano's to stand up for themselves, like what Juan did.
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Chicano's thought that they couldn't amount to anything but be a agricultural worker. Juan grew up this way before he found change in poetry.

2 Songs that Juan can Relate to-


"Yo Soy Chicano" (English Translation)

"I am Chicano, of color,

Pure Chicano, a brother with honor.

When they tell me there is revolution,

I defend my people with great valor.

I have all my people

For the revolution.

I am going to fight alongside the poor

To end this oppression."

This song was a great representation how Chicano's stood up with each other with the unfairness they were going through.

"YO NO LE TENGO MIEDO A NADA" ( English Translation)

"I am not afraid of anything,

I fear nothing.

Some lose and others win,

But I don’t like to lose.

And for this reason I tell my friends

To stop selling themselves out,

For the one who is a sellout

Always will be a loser."

This song shows how they didn't want to be looked at as less. They wanted to feel freedom and feel like a winner.

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