Juan Felipe Herrera’s writings are charged with theatrical and athletic energies. A hybrid collection of texts written and performed on the road, gathered from more than thirty-five years of work in various genres, these “undocuments” are the record of an epic journey across many different borders: boundaries of nations, state lines, city limits, edges of farmland, crossings and mixtures of languages and literary forms.
From Mexico City to San Francisco, from Central America to central California, Herrera remembers everything and gives back to his native places and to the family, friends and compañeros of his Mexican/American/Chicano odyssey a scrapbook, a logbook, a journal, a multiform confession of proud hybridity and indigenous optimism. A sustained manifesto of resistance and affirmation, these rants, manifestos, newspaper cut-ups, bits of street theatre, anti-lectures, love poems and riffs tell the story of what it’s like to live outlaw and brown in the United States.
“Papers? Permits? Documents? Identification? Open this book anywhere and find the authorization to keep on, permission to be who you are in your own skin, license to cultivate your inner guerrilla, angelic visas of transcendent transit. This book is the passport to a country under construction.” —from the Introduction by Stephen Kessler
Juan Felipe Herrera traveled as a child with his parents through many small farming towns and cities in California, until finally settling in San Diego. Juan Felipe’s books are often inspired by his past as the only son of a pair of migrant farm workers along with his belief that language, culture and good-hearted laughter are key ingredients of his work. He has taught poetry from kindergarten to the university level and is the author of numerous poetry and children’s books, including Calling The Doves, which won the Ezra Jack Keats Award, and CrashBoomLove, which was prized with the Americas Award. He also wrote Upside Down Boy, which was adapted into a musical in New York City, and Laughing Out Loud, I Fly, winner of a Pura Belpré honor award. He holds the Tomás Rivera endowed chair in creative writing at the University of California, Riverside, where he is a professor in the Department of Creative Writing.