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Poetry Award

UCR Poet Wins Prestigious Award

Juan Felipe Herrera earns a 2009 PEN Beyond Margins Award for “Half of the World in Light: New and Selected Poems.”

(September 4, 2009)

Juan Felipe Herrera

Juan Felipe Herrera

RIVERSIDE, Calif. – Juan Felipe Herrera, professor of creative writing at the University of California, Riverside, has won a 2009 PEN Beyond Margins Award from the PEN American Center, the national association of literary writers. The Beyond Margins awards celebrate outstanding books by writers of color published in the United States during the previous year, according to the center.

Herrera, who holds the Tomás Rivera Endowed Chair in the UCR Department of Creative Writing, is one of three winners announced Sept. 3. He was recognized for his poetry collection, “Half of the World in Light: New and Selected Poems” (University of Arizona Press).

Each winner will receive $1,000 and will be honored Dec. 2 in New York City. The event at Housing Works Bookstore Café will include readings and a panel discussion moderated by Jane Ciabattari, president of the National Book Critics Circle.

“We are delighted by Professor Herrera’s award,” said D. Charles Whitney, professor and chair of the UCR Department of Creative Writing. “It is further recognition of his stature as a poet and as one of the foremost Hispanic voices of our time.”

The son of migrant farm workers, Herrera has written 24 books ranging from children’s literature to poetry, produced plays and promoted the literature of other Chicano writers. He has more than 100 articles, poems, reviews and essays in print. Among his award-winning books are “187 Reasons Mexicanos Can’t Cross the Border,” “Downtown Boy,” “Calling the Doves,” “Crashboomlove” and Featherless/Desplumado.”

“Half of the World in Light: New and Selected Poems” has won several prestigious awards, including a New York Times Best Books of 2008, the 2009 National Book Critics Circle Award in Poetry, and the 2009 Latino International Award in Poetry.

The Beyond Margins Award is one of the ways in which the PEN American Center’s Open Book Program encourages racial and ethnic diversity within the literary and publishing communities. The Open Book Committee works to increase the literature by, for, and about African, Arab, Asian, Caribbean, Latin, and Native Americans, and to establish access for these groups to the publishing industry. Its goal is to ensure that those who are the custodians of language and literature are representative of the American people, according to the PEN American Center.

The University of California, Riverside ( is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion.

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