California Arts Council

State of California

Press Release Detail

January 08, 2014Caitlin Fitzwater

California Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera Calls for Participation in the Unity Project

Creating the "most incredible and biggest poem on unity in the world"

 When Juan Felipe Herrera was appointed California Poet Laureate by Governor Brown in March 2012, his first thought, after processing the news, was to create "the most incredible and biggest poem on unity in the world."

Honored as the State's advocate for the art of poetry, Juan Felipe Herrera has been gathering phrases, words, and poems on the subject of unity for nearly two years. As our country faced the crises of the Sandy Hook Elementary massacre and Boston Marathon bombing, Herrera saw a wave of poems arrive, with words of unity bringing soulful healing from these tragedies.

Students, poets, and friends have already shared hundreds of poems with Herrera, laying the groundwork for this project. Herrera remarks, "So, now for this new year, 2014, we are making a call for your words, poems in any form, for all, for unity. Remember:

Unity with nature, unity with those going through hard times, unity at a time of difficulty, unity as a gift, unity with neighbors, unity with animals and flowers, unity across the waters, unity across the world, unity across the stars, unity in the family, unity with all families, unity with a friend, unity with an enemy, unity in the schools, unity at work, unity with ancestors, unity with yourself, unity where unity is needed, unity all around... and round..."

Herrera invites all Californians to write him at and "send a batch of unity poetry, lines, words, raps, sonnets, corridos, ballads, cowboy poems, cowgirl poems, 5th grade, middle school, all grades, alternative, Haikus, Hay(Na) Kus."

Visit for more information on Juan Felipe Herrera and the Unity Project, and to see examples of poetry submissions. The Unity Project is supported in partnership with University of California, Riverside and Cal Humanities.

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The Mission of the California Arts Council, a state agency, is to advance California through the arts and creativity. Members of the California Arts Council include: Chair Wylie Aitken, Vice Chair Susan Steinhauser, Michael Alexander, Christopher Coppola, Andrew Green, Donn K. Harris, Charmaine Jefferson, Terry Lenihan, William Turner, and Rosalind Wyman.

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