"I see a mosaic pattern (Aztec-like) emerging, a weaving pattern, thin here, thick there . . . This almost finished product seems an assemblage, a montage...now appearing, now disappearing in a crazy dance. The whole thing has a mind of its own, escaping me and insisting on putting together the pieces of its own puzzle with minimal direction from my will." – Gloria Anzaldua.
English 380A, Winter 2011
Professor Deborah Miranda

Monday, March 28, 2011

Alex Espinoza Reading at W&L

This is a required event for ENGL 380.  I look forward to seeing you all there!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Helena Maria Viramontes: And Their Dogs Came With Them

Please view the  Helena Maria Viramontes video of her talk at Cornell - notice how she speaks of history, sociology, political science, and Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh, all in the same speech!  Pay special attention to the Q & A after her talk, when she tries to explain further her idea that "Writing is the only way I know how to pray."  Central to her writing is a belief that compassion - for ourselves, for each other, for those who do not have a voice, for those who have privilege - must be our primary goal, and that writing is a way to bring more compassionate thought and action into the world.

How can her talk help us think about this book as a form of prayer, reverence, meditation, petition, memorial?

In what way is this book not just a resistance to colonization, but a form of decolonization, or at the very least, a call for decolonization of the mind/soul/body?

Here is the material I meant to bring to class today:

(excerpt from “Extermination of the Joyas: Gendercide in Spanish California” by Deborah Miranda, GLQ 16:1–2)

Spanish soldiers had a different, less patient method. They threw the joyas
to their dogs. Shouting the command “Tómalos!” (take them, or sic ’em), the Spanish
soldiers ordered execution of joyas by specially bred mastiffs and greyhounds.11
The dogs of the conquest, who had already acquired a taste for human flesh (and
were frequently fed live Indians when other food was unavailable), were the colonizer’s
weapon of mass destruction.12 In his history of the relationship between
dogs and men, Stanley Coren explains just how efficient these weapons were: “The
mastiffs of that era . . . could weigh 250 pounds and stand nearly three feet at
the shoulder. Their massive jaws could crush bones even through leather armor.
The greyhounds of that period, meanwhile, could be over one hundred pounds
and thirty inches at the shoulder. These lighter dogs could outrun any man, and
their slashing attack could easily disembowel a person in a matter of seconds.”13
Columbus brought dogs along with him on his second journey and claimed that
one dog was worth fifty soldiers in subduing the Natives.14 On September 23,
1513, the explorer Vasco Nuñez de Balboa came on about forty indigenous men,
all dressed as women, engaged in what he called “preposterous Venus.” He commanded
his men to give the men as “a prey to his dogges,” and the men were torn
apart alive.15 Coren states matter-of-factly that “these dogs were considered to be
mere weapons and sometimes instruments of torture.”16 By the time the Spaniards
had expanded their territory to California, the use of dogs as weapons to kill or eat
Indians, particularly joyas, was well established.

An eye witness account:
They hanged 13 natives at a time in honor of Christ Our Saviour and the 12 Apostles.  Straw was wrapped around their torn bodies and they were burned alive.  They took babies from their mothers’ breasts, grabbing them by their feet and smashing them against rocks.  They would cut an Indian’s hands and leave them dangling by a shred of skin and threw others to the dogs and thus were torn to pieces.” —Bartolomé de las Casas (Spanish colonist, priest, first Bishop of Chiapas, who went from owning Indian slaves to protesting the treatment of Indians to Pope and Spanish Crown.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Spotlight on Demetria Martinez

Learn all about Demetria Martinez in my blog! - http://demetriamartinezpoetry.blogspot.com/

Spotlight On Gary Soto

Gary Soto’s first work, The Elements of San Joaquin, encompasses themes ranging from his experience working in the fields of San Joaquin as a youth to the death of his father. These events in his life played an immense role in shaping his politically activity as well as beginning his career as a Chican@ poet and author. His birth on April 12, 1952 in Fresno, California placed him in both the right time and place for participation in the Civil Rights movement that fought for increased rights for Chican@ field workers. Though his poetry resonates with his own biography it rings true for the Chican@ movement in its struggles against harsh living conditions and dependency on agricultural work for sustenance. The poem from which this publication takes its name, “The Elements of San Joaquin” opens the work with a sequence of poems details the relationship of worker to the land. César Chávez, a crucial political rights activist, receives a dedication at the poem’s beginning and marks “Elements” as a work written both to acknowledge hardship and provide a voice to those whose struggles the movement represented. Soto uses natural imagery in “Elements,” but his physically limiting perspective on the human body turns the rich earth into a barren field. In this way, Soto uses the relationship between man and nature to display the negative, and ultimately defining, characteristics imposed on Chican@ workers by an oppressive system of agricultural exploitation.

Soto’s dedication of “The Elements of San Joaquin” to César Chávez immediately imbues the words that follow with a tone of struggle and strife. Many works of American literature, especially those with a Transcendentalist background such as Whitman, Emerson, and Thoreau, present the merging of man with nature as return to innocence. This acceptance of the natural world, for them, holds great beauty and bolsters the spirit and strength of an individual. Soto, on the other hand, portrays the roughness of working in the dirt and in no way does this soil refresh the soul. This sequence begins with “Field,” and in its opening lines the speaker states, “The wind sprays pale dirt into my mouth/The small, almost invisible scars/On my hands” (3). The tone in this passage feels passive because seemingly all the speaker must do is close his mouth to avoid the dirt. This spray of dirt, however, pervades the atmosphere of the poem and cannot be resisted. The wind causes the landscape to change gradually over time, but the dirt it kicks up stings the speaker’s hands. It leaves miniscule scars and cuts, apparent to the speaker, but hidden from the observer. These scars represent both the physical pain induced by the worker’s labor as well as the pain of working soil that does not yield its fruits to laborers. The images of soil that produces only suffering, hands that bear the brunt of difficult labor, and wind that changes the land all point toward the difficulty of progress in an oppressive environment.

This environment, that of both the farm and society, leave physical and emotional scars that come to define the laborers on every level of their existence. “Field” concludes the first section of “Elements” by establishing this connection between man and land in terms of their physical makeup and social value. In the introduction to Gary Soto: New and Selected Poems, Soto explains that, “By the summer of 1973, after my fear of writing poorly had disappeared, I knew my pulse was timed to the heart of this valley” (Soto 2). His personal experience with the valley allowed him to craft these works because of the intimate relationship he held with the physical essence of the land he tended. Instead of reaping the rewards of this fertile earth, however, the speaker in “Elements” becomes reduced to a tool, a means of production, which sees no benefit from his labors. The speaker bemoans, “Already I am becoming the Valley,/A soil that sprouts nothing./For any of us” (12). This subject, like the land on which he works, becomes a domesticated product under the control of others. The imagery used to demonstrate the physically detrimental effects of farming on the human body and mind go one step further to illuminate the ways in which the workers have become the farm. The land on a farm is neither wild nor free. Whereas agricultural lands receive large amounts of care and nutrition in order to produce in a limited way, the workers receive little in return for their efforts.

Just as the wilderness becomes domesticated within a farm, the speaker in “Elements” grows distant from nature’s freedom as he works in the fields. Soto’s nature imagery remains prevalent in every sequence of “Elements,” but instead of invoking nature it begins to evolve into a representation of an urban setting. As the seasons changes and the farms no longer need workers nature fades and the struggle of urban survival begins. The speaker laments that:

When autumn rains flatten sycamore leaves,

The tiny volcanoes of dirt/Ants raised around their holes,

I should be out of work. (63)

The metaphor as man as valley continues as the earth hibernates and restores itself. A strict contrast is drawn between the earth’s rejuvenation and the worker’s autumn because of their continued need for sustenance. The sequence turns “Rain” as the speaker parallels an ant and transitions to a residence. The image of a man working like an ant, without and individual identity and living in a hole in the dirt, illustrates poor living and social conditions. The speaker is out of work for the season and returns again to the dirt from which nothing grows. Autumn and winter see no production from the earth and the worker loses his defining purpose. In these months the laborer faces the harshness of winter, but he never loses the dirt engrained in his existence. The dirt and the seasons become physically defining factors in the worker’s life, routine, and survival.

Another way in which Soto addresses the very physical implications of the relationship between man and earth presents itself in the descriptions he uses for his speaker. He defines the speaker in terms of discreet physical elements, such as hands or a face, but never as a whole person. This choice of worlds removes the sense of the individual and makes the speaker a more universally applicable image. Conversely, the speaker also becomes an entity defined by the function of its parts. Soto uses the pieces of the body related to either vital functions, such as the lungs, mouth, and belly, or parts used in order to complete work. Soto demonstrates this connection in “Field” when the speaker says:

After a day in the grape fields near Rolinda

A fine silt, washed by sweat,

Has settled into the lines

On my wrists and palms. (9)

Again, Soto compares the speaker to the fields he works, but the defining characteristic in this description is the pattern of the field on his wrists and palms. Through the oppressive agricultural system the workers become reduced to cogs functioning in a larger machine. They have only a functional purpose defined by others even while they must also fill their stomachs. The most unique part of a person’s physical identity, their fingerprints, becomes filled with dirt. When the work erases a person’s physical identity and reduces them to a simple means. Additionally, the speaker becomes limited to a single, menial function that ignores the fertility implied in the soil imagery.

This fertility of the individual also comes to play as the speaker struggles against the wind and soil while he attempts to make his voice heard. The opening line of the poem fills the speaker’s mouth with dirt. While this prevents him from speaking and causes pain, it also implies a richness of voice and a continuing struggle to express himself. The invocation of Chávez implies that this work speaks not only of the tragedy of oppression, but also the struggle to break free of the system. The wind, which represents change, moves the soil around and allows for new possibilities to manifest. In “Harvest,” the speaker collects the fruits of his labor for use by others, but also makes progress for himself. The worker makes progress when he says, “A wind crossed my face, moving the dust/And a portion of my voice a step closer to a new year” (74). Though his tone falls just short of hopeful, the speaker voice is carried forward to a new future where his cries are at least heard. Though no physical progress occurs the portion of his voice that escapes heralds a change in the way the workers interact with the rest of the world. Without this voice neither hope for a better future nor individual expression between people exists.

The relationship between man and earth finally evolves into the relationship between the producers and consumers. The final section, “Daybreak,” does not resolves the conflict between those who cannot see the suffering of the laborers, but an expression of this invisible problem. The voice that carries in “Harvest” has not yet matured, but the sunrise brings these grievances into the light of day. The speaker explains to the audience:

…the tears the onions raise

Do not begin in your eyes but in ours,

In the salt blown

From one blister into another. (107)

This selection links the laborers to those who consume the final product, but it is a blind connection. Neither group has direct contact with the other, but the pain experienced is a universal human emotion. Were the consumers put in the same position as the workers, they would feel the same discomfort. The tears shed by the eyes represent the same salt stinging the blisters. Even though the eyes cannot see the pain, Soto implies that if they could know of this suffering that they would react in the same manner. Despite the harmful effects of using only parts of the body to describe the worker, Soto’s use of eyes in this passage demonstrate a potential for empathy among different people. The bitter tone here, however, also shows that the change will be difficult, but that the struggle has potential for success. In a way, it also warns that those who consume can also feel pain in the same way as the laborers and that resentment will not disappear with change.

While “The Elements of San Joaquin” begins with a passive tone, it gains momentum through the sequence and builds to a moment where the speaker becomes more than a tool. His voice, inclusive of the pain and frustration with his situation become clear. “Elements” expresses the voice of one in the middle of a hard battle against oppression. It does not necessarily demonstrate the possibility of a perfect future, but it does show the tangible progress of a growing voice. Beyond the dirt that erases the speaker’s identity lies the fertile soil of a group of people who are no longer content to accept their harsh lives. “Elements” acknowledges the failings of an oppressive agricultural system on those it exploits and takes the first step toward establishing rights for the Chican@ workers. It also demonstrates the devastating ways in which a people with great potential can become so simplified that they lose their personhood. Soto’s use of discrete parts of the human body allows the speaker to exist as an individual, the universal human being, and those blind to their oppressive behavior. His use of soil and farmland bind humanity with the earth, and in doing so Soto demonstrates the power of voice to catalyze change like the wind can change a landscape. This change comes gradually and with an incredible amount of labor. “The Elements of San Joaquin” is the sum of an oppressed people, obscured by dirt, which now have the voice to begin growing.

Gary Soto continues to voice his opinion as a political activist and has continued his writing career. He has also expanded in other works of literature, such as novels, and continues to publish his work. In this interview Soto discusses the large variety of audiences he addresses across the large selection of genres within which he works. Soto also maintains a website containing a photo gallery chronicling his life as well as his email address if any readers are interested in contacting him. It also contains a section titled, "What's Up" where he posts new poems and his take on current events or articles. Finally, here is a brief reading of a poem entitled, "Ode To Obama" that demonstrates his continued interest in politics and reform through the medium of poetry.

Ana Castillo

You're invited to my awesome Ana Castillo blog!


Come on over

Poetry Spotlight: Sandra Cisneros

To learn more about Sandra Cisneros, visit my blog (just click the title link)!

Morgan Holt's Spotlight on Poet Lorna Dee Cervantes

To learn more about Lorna Dee Cervantes, visit my blog.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

40 Years of Activist Poetry - Juan Felipe Herrera

40 Years of Activist Poetry
Juan Felipe Herrera
“I didn’t start out to be a poet. Because I had been silenced, I started out to be a speaker.”
Juan Felipe Herrera is an artist with an activist’s mentality. He crafts his poetry, which recalls the beat of the street, into both the speech of a movement and later the speech of slow and steady social change. For over four decades Herrera has been publishing poetry – a verse influenced in style by the theater and Mexicano music and in content by the social context of his people. Herrera said, “As a Chicano and person of color, it is part of my poetics to respond to and transform and transcend the negative, narrow and easy explanations, summations and projections of who we are” (Go to the written interview of Herrera, interviewed by Lisa Alvarado).
Some critics have noticed Herrera’s artful rhetoric for social change. Maria Antonio Oliver-Roter, in a review of Herrera’ “travelogue”, Mayan Drifter, comments on how Herrera and his fellow “post-movimiento” writers use even their self-proclaimed title “… ‘Chicano’ as an act of commitment to the struggle for social justice…” (Purpura 381)But other critics are so entranced by the beauty of Herrera’s art they fail to see Herrera’s high obligations. In a glowing review of Herrera’s new books of poetry, Half the World in Light and 187 Reasons Mexicanos Can’t Cross the Border, Stephen Burt of the New York Times writes that Herrera, “…is no mere recorder of social conditions. Herrera is, instead … a[n] unpredictable poet, whose work commands attention for its style alone” (Go to this Review).
All of this is true; but Herrera is also not merely a recorder of social conditions who is also a stylistic master. Herrera strives, through his poetry, to either affect change or appreciate those who do. And though Herrera’s newer poetry, which has become less incendiary and more academic, has traveled a long way from his earlier and traditionally ‘movimiento’ rhetoric, he still promises never to lose what he calls an “activist perspective” (Alvarado). This essay will place Herrera’s poetry within the context of his life and the larger Chicano movement and will show Herrera to be not just an artful recorder, but also someone who appreciates activism and seeks to be an activist in his own poetry.
Early Bio

Juan Felipe Herrera’s life journey that led to the publication of one of his earliest poems, Mission Street Manifesto, was one of struggle, achievement, and pride. Born in 1948 Herrera and his parents worked in the fields of the San Joaquin valley, living in “small towns, ranches and worker fields” (biography). In 1967, after his family settled down near San Diego, Herrera graduated from high school and in 1972 he graduated from UCLA with a degree in Social Anthropology. During his college years Herrera, “… became an activist … and a poet interested in experimental poetry and theatre…” (biography). In 1980, a year before he first preformed Misssion Street Manifesto, Herrera earned a masters in Social Anthropology from Stanford University (Go To Herrera's CV).
Though he was involved in academics, Herrera was still caught up in the pride of the movimiento during the late ‘60s and early ‘70s. Among other things Herrera petitioned his chancellor for more Chicano studies classes and he attended some of the Chicano movement’s anti-Vietnam protest rallies, the Chicano Moratorium of L.A (187 reasons). These rallies provided the very experiences, which Herrera drew from to write Mission Street Manifesto.

In Herrera’s book of poetry 187 Reasons Mexicanos Can’t Cross the Border Mission Street Manifesto appears in a section entitled, “Photo-Poem of the Chicano Moratorium 1980/L.A.: Circa 1980-83” (187 Reasons 273-80). (P.S. 187 Reasons Mexicanos Can’t Cross the Border is a good book, I bought it, and would recommend it.) Reed Johnson, writing for the L.A. Times on the National Chicano Moratorium Against the Vietnam War’s 40-year anniversary, described the original event which started out peacefully but ultimately resulted in the death of some of the most influential people of the movement as, “among the most significant in modern Mexican American history” (Go to the article about the Chicano Moratorium).
But the rally Herrera describes is the 10-year anniversary of the original, a 1980 commemoration and also a political rally for worker’s rights and a protest of the conflict in El Salvador (187 reasons). In all likelihood, Herrera, a true, but young, veterano of the movement had attended both rallies, the first as a sophomore in college at UCLA and the 1980 commemoration as a recent graduate of Stanford (CV).

Mission Street Manifesto Analysis

Street Manifesto is not a finely crafted argument for any of Herrera’s many political causes, and in that sense it is not activist. However, a close reading will reveal the value and excitement Herrera finds in actively striving for social change. First, Herrera captures the power of the rally scene by constructing a very theatrical but also conversational poem, in which the speaker mimics the rap-speak of the street and the chanting, heard at rallies. The entire poem is contained within one stanza, with the line breaks consistently appearing after about every 15 syllables. At first glance this might create the illusion of blank verse, requiring a long chant-like performance. In fact, though the poem as a whole has no consistent formal meter, certain verses and phrases do.
These small metered sections seem natural to conversation and augment the chant-like but also conversational nature of the poem, as in the iambic form of “our handsome jaws of tender truth” (14) and “that has the eyes that gnaws / the chains” (3-4). Additionally, Herrera alludes to the musicality associated with chants and rap when he uses poetic devices such as internal rhyme, “the right to decay the triple K” (26) and alliteration “the sorrow of the silent skull” (18). And like true verbal speech, which is not written, this poem has no punctuation and no capitalization. In parts of the poem, the lack of punctuation makes it unclear how the phrase should be understood, like when the speaker observes, “the funky dog of sun and moon pull / out the diamonds” (10-11). It is as though many voices were shouting in a crowd and all of them were running together to form one crazy voice.

But the most obvious, and most prevalent structural device the speaker uses to mimic the energy of chant is repetition and anaphora. In his review Burt notices, generally, Herrera’s masterfully use of anaphora, “No poet alive uses anaphora better; none relies on it more” (Burt 1). Though this poem does not contain the kind of classic anaphora Herrera uses in other poems, the device is similar. For example, the phrase, “rise sisters rise brother and spill the song and sing the blood” is repeated four times throughout the poem and sort of demarcates different sections.
This phrase, with its iambic form and the potent verb “rise”, sounds like a fragment of something that might actually have been a rallying cry on the streets of East L.A. A closer look at the poem reveals that certain sections contain heavily repeated words and groups of words, especially the aforementioned word, “rise” as well as “libre” and “go”, as in“ go / whirling go singing go shining” (12-13), “go chanting libre chanting libre chanting libre go chanting libre go libre” (21), and “and rise and rise libre libre and rise and rise and rise libre and rise” (29). These two most used and repeated action words, “go” and “rise”, nicely complement the Spanish adjective “libre” or free.
Together this anaphoric diction conveys both the energy and purpose of the protestors, action and freedom.Herrera does not merely record the wild scene of the demonstrators and their cries but he allows the speaker to embody the crowd’s emotions and in doing so glorifies their efforts. The poem begins with the speaker throwing off oppression and madness, when the speaker proclaims, “Blow out the jiving smoke the plastic mix the huddling straw of the / dying mind and rise sisters…” (1-2). This phrase, repeated again at the very end of the poem, is an action of defiance in throwing off the oppressor. Here the protestors are vigorously fighting for their own cause. The protestors are joyful with the imagery of music – they “make the riff jump the jazz ignite” (5), they “swing out the breathing drums the tumbling flutes” (17) and they dance the “shing-a-ling the funky dog of sun and moon” (10).
Yet there is more than just happiness in the emotional rally, there is also excitement in the potential for real change. Towards the end of the poem the speaker discovers that the cry of the crowd is a vision of a better future, “the will of the worker now the / destiny of the children libre” (22-23). These same workers, fighting for justice, are able to “blow out” the “the patrolling gods the corporate / saints the plutonium clouds” (24-25), discover their “right to decay the triple K the burning cross…” (26), and “stop the neutron man the nuclear dream…” (27). Though the strongly worded, and slightly satirical diction implies Herrera’s strong political opinions, for example, “well-groomed empire” (28) and the “territorial rape / game” (26-27) there is no need for an explanation of each political issue – the point is simply that through collective action they can succeed! Ultimately the speaker proclaims the ability of the protestors to “rise” up and “blow out” not only the physical oppressors but also the oppressors of the mind. Read in this way, the “forever” refrain of the final lines (32-34) is a testament to the movimiento of Herrera’s youth which, through its groundbreaking rallies, “forever” got rid of the passivity of the “dying mind” and sparked real social change. As a veterano looking back only 10 years, Herrera appreciates and glorifies the power of activism on the collective mindset of a people.

Before you delve into Herrera's later biography, slide through some of his critically acclaimed works of fiction, poetry, plays, children's literature, and artwork:
Later Bio
Juan Felipe Herrera on his own life, on the lives of his Chicano writer friends, and the History of the Chicano movement, in 2005. Its long but there are some really interesting stories:
187 Reasons Mexicanos Can’t Cross the Border, which was published in 1994, is much more removed from the movimiento period than Mission Street Manifesto, which Herrera first preformed only seven years after the movement’s traditional end in 1974. In between the writing of these two poems, Herrera immersed himself quite fully in academia (Alvarado). He obtained another post-graduate degree, a Masters in Fine Arts from the University of Iowa and then served as Associate Professor at the University of Southern Illinois while continuing to publish (CV 1). When 187 Reasons first appeared in print Herrera was serving as a Professor in the Chicano and Latin American Studies Department at California State University Fresno (CV 1). Despite this distance in time, and perhaps mental state, Herrera is still able to maintain an “activist perspective” in this much newer poem.

Juan Felipe Herrera now teaches at the University of California, Riverside. This is a video written and preformed in one of his classes in 2008:
187 Reasons Analysis
This is a clip of Herrera reading from 187 Reasons and other poems at the Ruskin Art Club in Los Angeles, November 2007. Notice the theatrical style of performance.

Unlike Mission Street Manifesto, 187 Reasons does not have direct references to the experiences of a veterano or the great rallies of the movimiento but it is an argument for social change very relevant to Herrera’s contemporary time and place. Herrera notes, “Rather than amovimiento, since '74, we have streams, fugues, variations, implosions, counter-currents all at the same time” (Alvarado). This poem is one of these fugues, it is an academic protest that articulates what Burt writes is “…anger over California’s Proposition 187, designed to keep illegal immigrants out” (Burt 1).
187 Reasons is very much an argument. Almost every single line has, if not at first apparent, a subtle or deeper political message. For example the first line, “Because Lou Dobbs has been misusing the subjunctive again” (1), at first seems like silly joke directed at the anti-immigration journalist Lou Dobbs. But Dobbs, who works for CNN should clearly not be “misusing” any grammatical constructs. Herrera, a professor of English, pointing out this grammatical failure could be making a political statement about how far a Chicano migrant worker can come or about the ignorance of those who push for harsh immigration legislation. Similarly, even the imagery of “Because you can’t shrink-wrap enchiladas”, has a political message – the reader sees Mexican culture, represented by the enchilada, resisting assimilation by corporate America. And some lines are blatantly political and get straight to the point, “Because its Indian land stolen from our mothers” (12).

Indeed each one of the 187 lines is a part of a larger argument, a series of short comments that together form a poetic protest of Proposition 187 and the racism and ignorance that fueled that Proposition. The poem concludes with a passage that explores this anti-Mexican sentiment, “Because we shoulda learned from the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 …. Because you can’t deport 12 million migrantes in a Greyhound bus” (178-85). Here Herrera traces xenophobia, a term which he mocks in an earlier line, “Because ‘xenophobia’ is a politically correct term” (177), back over a century.
In doing so Herrera satirizes the uneducated person’s diction “shoulda” and notes the obvious, and silly, impossibility of deporting so many. But this exact sort of xenophobia is the reason the proposal was written, and so the joke is very politically charged. Indeed, the reality of the time shows that people actually do want to keep Mexicans, which obviously does not “…come from ‘Mexicantos’” (122), out of the country. So this poem, though funny, is making a very political statement – it alerts the reader to a very real ignorance and hatred of Mexican immigrants and it mocks this ignorance. Herrera isn’t taking to the streets, he isn’t calling for people to rise up and rally in Sacramento but he does try to effect a change of mind and alert people, in a very active way, to the wrongs being done to Chicanos.
Ultimately 187 Reasons Mexicanos Can’t Cross the Border is a very enjoyable, yet socially aware poem.Even its title implies a deeper, political meaning, its words, though funny, hint at a deeper purpose. The movimiento still exists, albeit in a different form and Herrera’s poetry exists with it. It seems that Herrera did not lie when he promised to always keep an “activist perspective”. In a poem written 20 years after the end of the movimiento, published in a book 10 years after that, this veterano is still fighting for the Chicano causes – he remains forever an activist

Juan Felipe Herrera in Action
Juan Felipe Herrera has been teaching since he graduated from college in 1972. Here is a clip of him being interview on his classroom techniques at UC Riverside:
Juan Felipe Herrera has written plays. Here are several scenes from his play (2004).
This is an original Juan Felipe Herrera piece of artwork, from his website:

Works Cited
Alvarado, Lisa. “Interview with Juan Felipe Herrera.” La Bloga. LaBloga.blogspot.com. Interview by Lisa Alvarado. 21 Feb. 2008. Web. 3 Mar. 2011
Burt, Stephen. "'Punk Half Panther'." NYTimes.com. New York Times, 10 Aug 2008 Web. 5 Mar 2011.
Ginsberg, Allen. “Howl, Parts I & II.” Poets.org. The Academy of American Poets. 1984. Web. 5 March 2011.
Herrera, Juan Felipe. 187 reasons mexicanos can't cross the border: undocuments, 1971-2007. City Lights Publishers, 2007. Print.
Herrera, Juan Felipe. “biography.” Juan Felipe Herrera: Poet Photographer Teatrista Playwright Artist. Juanfelipe.org. Web. 5 Mar 2011.
Herrera, Juan Felipe. “CV: Juan Felipe Herrera.” Juan Felipe Herrera, Department of Creative Writing. University of California, Riverside. Web. 4 Mar 2011.
Johnson, Reed. “Remembering the Chicano Moratorium.” LATimes.com. Los Angeles Times, 27 Aug 2010. Web. 5 Mar 2011.
Purpura, Lia. "[Untitled: Review of Border Crosser With a Lamborgini Dream]." Antioch Review 58.3 (2000): 380-81. Web. 5 Mar 2011.

Sources for pictures:
http://fromthevaultradio.org/home/2010/08/27/ftv-224-chic http://www.juanfelipe.org/sketches.htmlano-moratorium/