Dear Juan Felipe Herrera from Juanita

Dear & Querida Juanita —

Thanks for your extremely kind, generous, deep and poetic carta, your Barranquilla painted letter, with many transformations — I truly hear you and feel your spirit and mega-rhythms of life that you mention. Totally inspired by your words, your life journey and how you moved from “nation to nation,” “tent to tent” — yes, I remember that, like you. Yes, no more “self-hate!” Even the word “hate” is too much to bear — I send my corazón your way, to Florida, Miami and Orlando - to all of our hermanas and hermanos - sisters and brothers, who passed away in the massacre at the Pulse night club.  All of us are doing this now - we are all thinking of you and Orlando, all the families, all our LGBTQ communities. Let us honor them like you honor your life now. Poetry can heal, may all our lives together be that “river” you mention - one that will assuage the wounds and may your poetry help guide that river toward the hearts of the people - at this time.  The “goal” is shifting as you mention regarding the poem — yet the goal remains the same — offer your poems to others, with a good heart. You too are an inspiration.

I send you my very best, con admiración and much apoyo, support,

Juan Felipe Herrera
Chancellor, Academy of American Poets
Poet Laureate of the USA

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