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How U.S. Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera Found His Voice

Blue Flower Arts

Blue Flower Arts

The next Poet Laureate of the United States is a Central Valley native. Juan Felipe Herrera won't give his inaugural reading until September, but he read one of his poems and shared his story on Insight with Beth Ruyak.

Herrera talks about one memorable encounter with a teacher who helped him find his voice.

In the third grade, Herrera recalls his teacher, Mrs. Sampson, asking him to sing in front of the class.

"That was like asking me to climb Mt. Everest," he says.

But sensing the kindness in her voice, Herrera summons up all of his courage and sings "Three Blind Mice." He says his teacher later complimented him on his "beautiful voice."

"From that day on ... I began to think about voice and beauty," he says. "I started my entire life's trek on having a voice and on encouraging others to express their beautiful voice."

Herrera says he and his former teacher recently reconnected.

Listen to the full interview and poem here.

-Capital Public Radio Staff

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