Poetry Center Opening Event – Readings by poets Juan Felipe Herrera and Jane Hirshfield

Sierra Nevada College’s new Poetry Center is proud to host Poet Laureate of California Juan Filipe Herrera and award-winning poet Jane Hirshfield for their Grand Opening. The Poetry Center promotes an appreciation of contemporary American poetry with one of the largest collections of contemporary American poetry in Nevada and a diverse program of public readings and workshops.

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Juan Felipe Herrera

The son of migrant farm workers, Herrera was educated at UCLA and Stanford University, and received his MFA from the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop. His numerous poetry collections include Senegal Taxi (2013); 187 Reasons Mexicanos Can’t Cross the Border: Undocuments 1971-2007 (2007); Half of the World in Light: New and Selected Poems (2008), a recipient of the PEN/Beyond Margins Award and finalist for the National Book Critics Circle prize; and Border-Crosser with a Lamborghini Dream (1999). In addition to publishing more than a dozen collections of poetry, Herrera has written short stories, young adult novels, and children’s literature.

Herrera’s poetry brims with simultaneity and exuberance, and often takes shape in mural-like, rather than narrative, frames. His creative work often crosses genres, including poetry, opera and dance theater. The NY Times described Herrera as one of the first poets to successfully create “a new hybrid art, part oral, part written, part English, part something else: an art grounded in ethnic identity, fueled by collective pride, yet irreducibly individual too.”

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Jane Hirshfield

Award-winning poet, essayist, and translator Jane Hirshfield published her first poem in 1973, shortly after graduating from Princeton as a member of the university’s first graduating class to include women, then put aside her writing for nearly eight years to study at the San Francisco Zen Center. Her books of poetry include Come, Thief (2011); After (2006), shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot prize; Given Sugar, Given Salt (2001), a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award; The Lives of the Heart (1997); The October Palace (1994); Of Gravity & Angels (1988); and Alaya (1982).

Inspired by both Eastern and Western traditions, Hirshfield’s work encompasses a huge range of influences. Her poetry works with short forms, spare lines, and careful imagery of natural and domestic settings, frequently hinging on a turning point or moment of insight. Her ability to marry philosophical meditation with domestic observation has been widely remarked upon.


Located within Prim Library, the Poetry Center is made possible through a grant awarded by the Nevada State Library and Archives and the Institute of Museum and Library Services. In addition to the more than 500 volumes of poetry acquired with grant funding the center has also received a donation of approximately 3000 volumes. Like the library itself, the Poetry Center’s collections and programs are open to the general public and offer free access to all Nevada residents.

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