In his first official appearance as the 21st Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry, Juan Felipe Herrera has announced at the Library of Congress National Book Festival the official project of his laureateship, “La Casa de Colores,” which includes an invitation to Americans to contribute a verse to an “epic poem” about the American experience.
The poem, titled “La Familia,” will unfold with a new theme each month about an aspect of American life, values or culture.
Herrera will compile the contributions and announce the next theme on the Poetry and Literature Center’s blog. A word cloud illustrating the responses will be posted to provide a visual snapshot of the language contributors used to articulate the themes.
La Casa de Colores also will include a monthly feature on resources at the Library of Congress. “El Jardín,” a feature that includes videos, poems and blog posts, will show Herrera interacting with and responding to select items throughout the library.
According to Herrera, “La Casa de Colores, ‘the House of Colors,’ is a house for all voices. In this house we will feed the hearth and heart of our communities with creativity and imagination. And we will stand together in times of struggle and joy.”
In developing the project, Herrera said, “If it is a ‘casa,’ a grand house for all of us, we must be a ‘familia,’ a family. A family cannot flourish without a ‘jardín,’ a garden to care for, to create. Our garden is our luminous Library of Congress with inspirations nestled inside for more than 200 years.”
La Casa de Colores will be launched on www.loc.gov/poetry in mid-September to coincide with the Library’s Hispanic Heritage Month celebrations. For more information about Hispanic Heritage Month at the Library of Congress, visit www.loc.gov/rr/hispanic/events.html.
La Casa de Colores will complement the laureate’s year of public programs in the capital. These programs, co-sponsored by the Library’s Hispanic Division, will champion U.S. Hispanic literature and its connection to larger cultural movements.