Looking for a book, DVD, CD, or other item? Search our catalog!

Friday, August 07, 2015

Poetry Friday--Half of the World in Light

Back in June, a new United States Poet Laureate was announced--Juan Felipe Herrera. Herrera begins his term next month by taking part in the annual National Book Festival on Saturday, September 5. Perhaps he will read poems from Half of the World in Light: New and Selected Poems [811.54 HER] at the festival. Here's one from the collection that I find evocative and thought-provoking:
Inside the Jacket

I remember, many years ago
a mexicano working in a sweat shop
on E Street by the library.
I could see him through the window--
a tailor by trade.
Thought about asking him
to make me a suit for graduation.
His fingers were so thin, so dark.
Usually, he labored on a sport coat.
Could tell the owner had granted him
He seemed happy and at ease.
One evening, I passed by and gazed
at his finery; his project:
venom lacing
a serpent feverishly winding out of the earth
wrapping around the furniture, into the ceiling,
a gold lacing, swelling,
pouring out into the night,
an iridescent skin, leaping
out of his scarred hands,
spreading across the city.

One of the nice things about this collection is that it comes with an audio CD of the poet reading his work.

Some of the poems in Half the World in Light are pretty "heavy," but, Herrera's lighter side is visible in Laughing Out Loud, I Fly: Poems in English and Spanish [YA 811.54 HER], which is written for a younger audience.

The Poetry Friday Round-Up for this week is hosted by Tabatha and is taking place at The Opposite of Indifference.


  1. I recently got this book when Herrera was named Poet Laureate and I am looking forward to working with his poems with my 5th grade (mostly Latino) students. This is a wonderful collection of poems, and I especially like the one you chose to share today!

    1. I'm glad you like it, Maureen. I'm planning on sharing one his light-hearted ones next week.

  2. Replies
    1. Kind of gives you a shivery feeling, doesn't it?