Every Day We Get More Illegal by Juan Felipe Herrara
From City Lights Books:
Included in Publishers Weekly's Top 10 Poetry Books of 2020 & LitHub's Most Anticipated Books of the Year!
A State of the Union from the nation's first Latino Poet Laureate. Trenchant, compassionate, and filled with hope.
"Many poets since the 1960s have dreamed of 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. Many poets have tried to create such an art: Herrera is one of the first to succeed."— New York Times
"Herrera has the unusual capacity to write convincing political poems that are as personally felt as poems can be."—NPR
"From Basho to Mandela, Every Day We Get More Illegal takes us on an international tour for a lesson in the history of resistance from a poet who declares, 'I had to learn . . . to take care of myself . . . the courage to listen to my self.' In ways subtle and sometimes proudly loud, this book makes it clear exactly why Juan Felipe Herrera continues to be recognized and sought after for his work. You hold in your hands evidence of who we really are."—Jericho Brown, author of The Tradition
"Everyday we get more illegal, the poet says in this book of incantations and days, of laborers touching the earth and migrants waiting crossing the border. To cross where? To the country that is itself in danger of becoming merely The Wall. Nothing else but The Wall. But Juan Felipe Herrera knows that 'underneath the crust of The Wall things are always / in motion,' he knows that what saves us is tenderness. His father once walked to the ocean with a jar in his hand. The poet comes to his country with a book of songs, and asks: America, are you listening? We better listen. There is wisdom in this book, there is a choral voice that teaches us 'to gain, pebble by pebble, seashell by seashell, the courage.' The courage to find more grace, to find flames."—Ilya Kaminsky, author of Deaf Republic
"Former Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera should also be Laureate of our Millennium—a messenger who nimbly traverses the transcendental liminalities of the United States to then speak from the body politic in confrontation with an enemy system that threatens the networks that make us ethical and humane. Every book he writes becomes his best book and this collection is no exception. He brings unity and vulnerability to this wide-ranging and prophetic volume."—Carmen Giménez Smith, author of Be Recorder
"In Every Day We Get More Illegal Juan Felipe Herrera shows off all of his styles. These poems talk directly to America, to migrant people, and to working people. Herrera has created a chorus to remind us we are alive and beautiful and powerful."—José Olivarez, author of Citizen Illegal
"Few poets have more laurels upon which they could rest than Juan Felipe Herrera. As the former Poet Laureate of the United States he's done more for poetry, on the page and off, than most anyone living. But in his new Every Day We Get More Illegal, Herrera not only stretches, complicates, broadens his own oeuvre, he challenges and expands what might be possible in the space of a poem. Herrera reaches out beyond language—'the fervent bones'—beyond the lyric medium itself, towards what is too urgently broken for mere words: our moment, our nation, our humanity. 'We brought in a new time,' he writes, 'this is the new time.'"—Kaveh Akbar, author of Calling a Wolf a Wolf
"Juan Felipe Herrera upholds and elevates the great ancestral lineage of our Mexicano/Chicano/World/Word Masters. The Border lives in this man. The Border(s) will never leave him. He is the son of soul anarchy, the lost stories of my America. He is the trickster magician who lifts the mirror to our faces—and allows us to see truth. When he breaks stride in this great walkabout of his, he tumbles the false world down while always showing us the Better Way. These are poems fierce and compassionate. His Journey has served him well."—Denise Chávez, owner, Casa Camino Real Bookstore, Las Cruces NM
"Juan Felipe Herrera breaks open language to convey unspeakable pain alongside unfathomable strength."—Emma Ramadan, co-owner, Riff Raff Bookstore, Providence, RI
In this collection of poems, written during and immediately after two years on the road as United States Poet Laureate, Juan Felipe Herrera reports back on his travels through contemporary America. Poems written in the heat of witness, and later, in quiet moments of reflection, coalesce into an urgent, trenchant, and yet hope-filled portrait. The struggle and pain of those pushed to the edges, the shootings and assaults and injustices of our streets, the lethal border game that separates and divides, and then: a shift of register, a leap for peace and a view onto the possibility of unity.
Every Day We Get More Illegal is a jolt to the conscience—filled with the multiple powers of the many voices and many textures of every day in America.